A new teacher arrives at a small village in rural Thailand. He has just left the monkhood and has taken a job at the local school in a quest to discover life outside the monastery. He finds that one of his pupils is a mute girl who is being bullied by the other children in the class. Both the teacher and the girl must face the challenges and cruelties of the real world. The girl retreats into a fantasy world, finding solace in the forest with a strange wild boy. The teacher struggles to bring her back, whilst at the same time himself questioning the world of reality. The worlds of fantasy and reality clash with tragic consequences.
I wasn’t quite sure what genre THE FOREST was for the first fifty minutes. It seemed to be a fable for children, with morals on the evil of bullying, as well as befriending ghosts and goblins in the forest. A little clumsy with the set-up, but that was all soon forgiven when the second half of this movie ventured into a dark mysterious path with some violence and other adult themes. So it eventually had my attention, and I was glad that my finger didn’t press the stop button earlier.
The two main protagonists, the teacher and the silent student, were well crafted characters that held you in there until the story took an interesting turn for that second half. More importantly was the performances by the actors that made these characters shine. The child actress, Wannasa Wintawong, took the limelight, along with her companion, Tanapol Kamkunkam, who played the feral boy, protector of the forest. The two played off each other so well that it gave the film a sense of neorealism.
The highlight was the character of the new male teacher in a backward school town. Preecha, played brilliantly by Asanee Suwan, walked away from being a Monk so he could teach the children how to face the World. The dilemmas he faced were conflicting with his morals, and those issues were dealt with intelligibly.
Director, Spurrier, seemed to be a one man band crew as he also photographed, edited, wrote the screenplay and even scored the music. He did a fine job in all those departments, and delivered a worthwhile film that dealt with various themes from bullying, school politics, belonging, spiritual being and it even touched on religion. Themes relevant anywhere in the World, and captured perfectly by Spurrier.
Director: Paul Spurrier
Writer: Paul Spurrier
Stars: Tanapol Kamkunkam, Thidarat Kongkaew, Natpatson Lhakkum
Release Date: 9 March 2016 (USA)
Format : MPEG-4
Format profile : Base Media
Codec ID : isom (isom/mp41)
File size : 4.35 GiB
Duration : 1 h 49 min
Overall bit rate mode : Constant
Overall bit rate : 5 686 kb/s