I need more knowledge about Thailand to fully interpret and appreciate it. Dedicated to the Rohingya, an ethnic group that's apparently a marginalized minority. Its topics on borrowed identity and a friendship first given willingly but then withdrawn give me the impression of touching on shared guilt, or a protest against its lack thereof. Atmospheric and slow, interesting but gave me many doubts, couldn't enjoy it.
I’m giving this film 2.5 stars because of its outstanding soundtrack, several visually stunning sequences of nature, and surrealistic imagery created with fairy lights. The screenplay, on the other hand, is disastrous. The film is forgettable, long, the character development is nonexistent, the film language is uninteresting, cliched and will seem predictable to anyone who has seen at least a couple of Thai films.
Chyba jestem zbyt leniwy by rozszyfrowywać zarówno końcówkę, jak i całą symbolikę, niemniej mam nadzieje że to dokądś prowadzi, a mi zwykłemu śmiertelnikowi pozostaje cieszyć egzotyką na ekranie. Pięknem natury, grą świateł i całym kadrowaniem wraz z zamysłem operatorskim (sic!).
The mythical nature of Manta Ray is sustained, rather than by images and symbols, by sounds and lights. Occasionally, it is wearisome, since much of the movie's appeal is to the surface (our senses) rather than to the depths where meanings lay. The elements of myth (to tell reality) are dispersed within the elements of illusion (to alter reality). Aroonpheng seems aware of both necessities, which is rare.
While being a promising debut mainly in terms of the elegance of the imagery and the poetic tones that largely resonate from what is a subtle texture, its reticence risks being interpreted as a tactic that 'plays safe' by the conventions of contemporary art-house film: ambience, 'epoche' on dramatization, non-verbal performativity, 'correct' images emptied of semantics, hybridity. These 'work' here but do not uplift.
Captivating photography enhances this tale of loss, loneliness and displacement. We see both ends of the spectrum of human behaviour, from kindness and fellow-feeling to murderous brutality. The use of coloured lights gives it a Magic Realism twist, with an unsettling message about the links between beauty and danger. A very impressive directorial debut.
3.5 Feels visually and aurally symphonic, as though secret harmonies are tying together disparate worlds and peoples. Loved the minimal dialogue, as it forces the audience to exist in a similar state to Thongchai and his saviour. Beautiful cinematography and calming shots of the men simply existing together. Loved the symbolism of the bejeweled forest. Echoes of "Vertigo" in the male doubling.
Throughout this film I swayed from loving it to loathing it. It was visually beautiful - extremely beautiful. The first hour had me fully engrossed and I found the relationship between the refugee and the young thai fisherman so warming and authentic. But when that went, I felt the film lost so much energy and the narrative/performances became slightly too obscure for me. Almost a 4 but still worth a watch for sure.
It's always December 25th in Thailand. Christmas lights everywhere, even in the forest. It's a great idea for a movie. I paused it several times because I lost track of what was happening. I kept thinking of what I'd put in the American version that I'm directing in my head. There were many moments where I thought the movie could have ended, but it just kept going. My version would be shorter, and end in Paris.
A visually stunning film that is the directorial debut of Phuttiphong Aroonpheng, Manta Ray treads the line of fantasy and reality in a hypnotic mixture of a refugee's life after being saved by a fisherman from a small village in Thailand. Through a mix of real and imagined elements this story, despite a slow introduction, ends up captivating the viewer by the end on a mesmerizing audiovisual journey of the senses.
Reminiscent of 'I Don't Want To Sleep Alone' at first, but becomes weirder and more allegorical. Yet, it lacked the transcendent scenes of Tsai Min-Liang's film. Comparisons aside, this feels like it prefers to be perceived as brooding and mysterious without delivering something concrete beneath. Hints of greatness, which don't quite deliver. Nonetheless a director to watch. Fantastic in its visual storytelling.
If Apichatpong Weerasethakul remade Vertigo, it would look a lot like Manta Ray. Haunting, sensuous and dreamlike. Several shots stick with me: a disco light dance, the baby in the dirt, the midway forest lights. I don't know the meaning behind it, but so gorgeous. Undercurrent of homoeroticism, which I'm not complaining about, but may also be reading too much into.
Almost free of dialogue, Manta Ray relies on its visuals, sound design and poetry to convey a story of extraordinary compassion and tenderness, friendship and humanity, all within a story that is ultimately bleak and solemn in it's depiction of the Rohingya (and to an extent, refugee) experience. Friendship and common humanity isn't beyond question, but once you replace one's position in society, tension emerges.
Seeing Manta Ray I was reminded of discovering Mundane History through mubi, which also turned an intimate tale into a cosmological experience. Requiring more than a little participation, at times it ventured into what I call 'Post-rock' cinema, which isn't bad but doesn't do justice to the emotional impact it imparts. Unexpected, but a powerful and dazzling portrait of Rohingya displacement.