citizendogtvln06-17-08Thai director Wisit Sasanatieng’s follow-up to the eye-popping Tears of the Black Tiger (2000), Citizen Dog (2004) is a thoroughly enjoyable picaresque, telling the slight story of Pod, a country bumpkin and a “romantic without a dream”, newly arrived in Bangkok. His unusual adventures unfold in a series of titled vignettes, along with those of his unusual acquaintances.

First we meet Jin, object of Pod’s tender affections, obsessed with cleaning and with a book with white covers in a language she cannot understand that fell at her feet from a spectacularly plummeting aeroplane against a luminous digital sky. Yod is Pod’s best friend and “finger buddy” following an incident at the sardine cannery where they work, and others include Kong, the ghost motorcycle taxi driver, and Baby Mam, 22 years in the body of a 13 year old, with her constant (and constantly smoking) companion, the animate teddy bear Thomchong.

Although firmly episodic, the whole is weaved together by a warm good humour, a terrific and almost constant music track, insanely vibrant colour schemes, and the wonderfully everyday surrealism that is the film’s beating heart, most touching in the mountain of plastic bottles that reaches to the moon, and most amusingly unsettling in the reincarnation of Pod’s grandmother as a gecko. The first half is uproarious, but the pace flags (Pod’s brief celebrity for being the only person in Bangkok without a tail falls resolutely flat); the natural inconsequentiality of the structure is reinforced by an ironic detachment in the bone-dry voiceover (by Monrak Transistor director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang) and by the heightened non-realism of the alternate world of the film; but the former is amusing, the latter engagingly weird enough, and Pod so unfailingly good-natured, that charm, romanticism and sheer oddity win out.

image courtesy of wikipedia