Before we begin talking about the film, let’s see how AMPAS often unfairly puts its preference towards period films when it comes to nominating films from (Eastern) Asian countries.
Randomly over the past two decades, we see The Twilight Samurai (Japan), The Scent of Green Papaya (Vietnam), House of Flying Daggers (China), and many others being nominated in the Foreign Language Film category, and ultimately, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon took home the coveted Oscar five years ago. The unstoppable trend results in other countries following the same pattern when it comes to submitting their films to be considered in the aforementioned category, for example, Gie (Indonesia), last year’s Putri Gunung Ledang (Malaysia), and now, Thailand’s The Tin Mine is hoping of the same luck.
Yet, the move may prove to be a backlash towards the country itself which has already itself as a country inhabited by fresh and original ideas as seen from the staple of their horror films (Shutter, Nang Nak), drama (Last Life in the Universe), or even the notoriously difficult genre, if not impossible for Asians to conquer, i.e. Western (Tears of the Black Tiger). Seeing The Tin Mine indeed leaves me with a serious question of whether the amazing advancement storytelling from Thai filmmakers starts taking its toll, and choosing to play-safe as suffered from filmmakers in many developing countries.
For a start, the most obvious drawback of the film lies on its indecisiveness to make the film as an adolescence story, or the rise and fall of a tin mine in which the film is titled from. The use of voice-over from the main character seems to suggest that the film tries to bridge the gap between the two, yet at the end of the film, we are left with no impression to reel ourselves in a nostalgic feeling forcedfully appearing on a tad length of the duration that racks up to more than 120 minutes.
Although the breathtaking look of the film’s cinematography may be one redemptive quality to make the film still bearable, it does not make a sense at all to keep on waiting every alternate minutes to see the postcard-quality images.
A film is about a story being presented on a big screen for audience to feel, and when the story fails to choose among many of its multi-layered subtleties, it simply fails to connect.