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One for the Road

Farhad Dalal
By-
Farhad Dalal
Rating
3.5 Star popcorn reviewss

Introduction

We are still a day away from the weekend and I thought of squeezing in another film which is in the Oscar Race this year under the Foreign Film Category. And with that I finished watching the new Thai film One For the Road which was streaming on Netflix. It is Thailand official entry to the 95th Academy Awards this year. But before that I also have a bone to pick with Netflix.

I have been observing a trend of the OTT giant over promoting several of their content which is at best mediocre. But some of the real gems which Netflix has, have been slipping under the radar for quite a while now. Netflix really needs to revisit their strategy of promotion especially of content which is from a foreign land and NOT English. I for one did not have a clue about the Thai film One For The Road releasing on Netflix(apparently it was a 2021 release). Any which way I went into the film without knowing anything about the film. And here are my two cents on the Thai film One For The Road which is streaming on Netflix.

Story & Screenplay

One For The Road follows the story of a high end club owner residing in New York who receives a call from his terminally ill friend who wishes to have a roadtrip with him. The concept of a road trip has been tackled across many films, even under the mainstream category. And they have a kind of a fresh vibe to it every time. And this film is no different. You are aware of the eventuality but it is the journey here which is heartfelt and fascinating. The screenplay standing at just over 2 hours makes for a good watch although there are roadblocks along the way.

The first thing that I noticed about the drama was its interesting setup. The entire “bar” angle did give a fresh vibe to the drama. Having said that the structure of the first half is slightly lopsided. While there is an element of emotions that slowly get to you when it is revealed that one of the two protagonists is suffering from blood cancer, you can’t help but think that the drama maybe slightly far fetched to begin with. You do not see a terminally ill patient go on a travelling spree.

The slight other stutter is that I really wished to get a vibe of the town or city where the eventual road trip does take place. Now I did not quite get that feeling but to compensate, the drama does well in creating individual moments in the first half which will melt your heart. There was an element of nostalgia attached to it although the structure was an issue. Also from a concept level(of visiting your exes before you die) was an interesting one in the current setting which did rescue the first half to a large extent.

Things start to get better when the real motives are unearthed in the second hour. And that does give the drama a whole new dimension and a lot of weight to it. The entire flashback was a great one wherein you as a viewer are taken on a trip of love, loss and regret. There are elements here which are relatable and you do feel a sense of empathy creeping in for one of the characters. The last goodbye or the last amendment is often important so that one does not have any regrets eventually. And so the structuring and the world building around the second half did make a lot of sense. It also added purpose to the drama overall.

The various cocktails also had an interesting significance with each flavour being equated with an ex that does bring out the right amount of nostalgia even to the viewer. This was a really innovative take on modern day relationships. The final act was an emotional one summing up the drama which was consistently watchable and heartfelt in parts.

Dialogues, Music & Direction

The dialogues are quite well penned and subtle in its approach minus the melodrama that does create an impactful viewing. The BGM is soothing with a touch of melancholy and nostalgia that resonates perfectly with the drama. The cinematography is stylized and really wonderful to witness. Director Baz Poonpiriya does a good job in taking the roadtrip template and giving it a new spin. He was able to engage the viewers with his storytelling technique by executing certain sequences brilliantly.

Performances

The performances are pretty good here. Chutimon Chuengchoroensukying as Noona, Ploi Horwand as Alice and Siraphan Wattanajinda as Roong have their moments to shine. Violette Wautier as Prim looks pretty and does a sparkling job. Ice Natara as Aood has a layered and a complex character and he does full justice to it. Thanapob Leeratanakachorn as Boss has a brilliant screen presence and does a spectacular job. He had many emotions to play with and he quite brilliant here.

Conclusion

One For The Road is an interesting and subtly heartfelt road trip that is well worth your time. But with a healthy competition this time around, it may not do wonders at the Academy Awards this year!  Available on Netflix.

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