Dao Khanong (By the Time It Gets Dark)
The title of Anocha Suwichakornpong’s 2009 debut feature, Jao nok krajok (Mundane History), was deceiving in that the viewer did not expect the eventual revelation, as if by photochemical reactions, of an additional narrative dimension made of memory and cosmic wonder. Thus one shouldn’t be surprised that her subsequent film, more sophisticated still, takes us on a road impossible to foresee, perhaps even by the mind deciding on its turns.
The thought process at play may be Ann’s, a filmmaker in search of a good, meaningful story for her next film. Her quest progressively reveals deeper needs as she interviews the woman who inspired her, a writer and former student activist. Memories start to resurface, on the whim of a rhyme with the past. Whether they are evocations of historical events impeded by a state-imposed amnesia, or forgotten pages of an intimate journey, images join and rebound in unexpected new directions, heeding the call from seemingly secondary characters for attention in the foreground.
Of course, the psyche we are exploring here could also be the writer-director’s, who presents us with a particular galaxy of possibilities that she has composed and of which she has a prime command.
Tuning into the organic flow of echoes along this human chain grants the viewer the higher view, through which Dao Khanong (By the Time It Gets Dark)’s seemingly dislocated puzzle forms as a harmonious whole. Isn’t openness to digression the only narrative form faithful to life, when even DNA’s apparently preprogramed agenda is subject to chance and hazard? We may be living a dream, or dreaming our lives.Aurélie Godet