Sunday, August 9th, 2015

How To Win at Checkers (Every Time)

Since 11-year-old Oat’s construction worker father had a fatal accident he has grown more dependent on his older brother Ek who he completely idolises. After their father’s death the boys are now orphans Ek has to leave school early to get a job to provide for the family as they are now looked after their aunt. It’s only tending bar, so money is always tight and an issue in his household.

Ek is openly gay and has been dating Jai since they met at high school and they are very much an ‘item’ even though he is everything that Ek isn’t i.e. he’s richer, taller, whiter. What is looming on the horizon for the two lovers is as they are about to have their 21st birthdays they will have to take part in the compulsory State Lottery to see if they will have to do Military Service or not. Jai’s wealthy father gives money to the local Crime lord to bribe the Officials to ensure that his son makes a good draw, a fact that Jai doesn’t share with his boyfriend. However young Oat overhears the deal going down and when he cannot convince Ek of what he has heard, he takes matters in his own hands and tries to steal some money so that his big brother is also safe from military duty.
When Oat’s scheme fails Ek has to deal with the recriminations which means losing his bar tending job and having to become an escort to just keep food on the table. He’ll do this albeit reluctantly but refuses to attempt to buy his way out being conscripted for the Army or refusing to believe that his boyfriend would ever agree to being party to such an arrangement.
In this refreshing coming-of-age drama from American/Korean filmmaker Josh Kim the fact of the two boys sexuality is of no real consequence to anyone at all, and even young Oat simply accepts his brother’s lifestyle without even giving it a second thought. A secondary plot line of a transitioning teen who is simply excused the Draft without any fuss at all is quite remarkable as well. Thai culture may still be steeped in long held immoral practices such as bribery and corruption, but when it comes to being gay, it is much more advanced than so many other nations. (There was a dissolution of the ban on LGBT soldiers in the military in 2005.)
Kim’s sensitive approach in adapting multiple stories from Thai-American author Rattawut Lapcharoensap’s acclaimed 2004 collection ‘Sightseeing makes for a remarkable mature debut narrative. With the help of his excellent young cast, he ensures that this tale of social inequality is told without sinking into melodrama or dragging out any of the usual cliched stereotypes. The compassionate fraternal relationship is particular touching and makes this heartbreaking story such a sheer joy to watch.
P.S. The title of the movie comes from the book that young Oat picks up at the market one day. Ek has told him that he will only take him out drinking one night when he beats him in one their regular checkers games.


Posted by queerguru  at  17:28

Genres:  coming out, international

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