You don’t often see films from Thailand, but obviously they watch ours. The Tarintino effect has reached its grimy fingers across the world and is influencing filmmakers everywhere. It has been seven long years since “Pulp Fiction” and its aftermath in the States is pretty much dead. For a while you couldn’t go a month without seeing another blatant Tarintino rip-off on the video shelves.
Pen-Ek Ratanaruang the writer/director of “6ixtynin9”, wasn’t too obvious in his borrowing from this genre, the film plays like a very low-key Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. The style and panache of the over-the-top influences are gone, but the basic elements are used. An average person caught in an extraordinary situation, gangsters, black-humor, witty dialogue and the cross-cutting story lines, they’re all here.
Economically it is hard times in Thailand and the film reflects this. Tum, our heroine, is laid off in the first scene of the film. Her unemployment leads her to shoplift some essentials and dream about committing suicide. However, like in all these films, the fantastical turns her entire life upside-down. A box filled with money is left in front of her door. The reason behind this is her door number six only has one nail in it, and it is constantly flipping over to show nine. And thus the strange film title “6ixtynin9” is explained.
Soon two thugs show up looking for their missing money and in an ironic twist of fate Tum kills them both. One gangster boss is expecting the money and another believes it to have been delivered. Of course both assume the other has stolen it. The money is for a fixed fight (“Pulp Fiction”, Snatch, anyone?) and its disappearance leads to a low-level gang war. Meanwhile, Tum is plotting her escape to England and trying to get rid of the bodies in a way only a true amateur would. (Obviously she hasn’t seen any of these movies.)
Gangsters, a cop and a nosey neighbor repeatedly show up at Tum’s apartment, a few of them meeting with a gruesome and humorous deaths. Tum is stuck cleaning up the gorey remains. The best moments of the film are during the various visits to the apartment, there are some very clever and funny situations. The insanity all comes to a halt with the all too typical Mexican stand-off, where everybody is pointing their gun at somebody else. The films ending then veers off and we’re stuck wondering what all the madness was about, but somehow it works.
I have really built up the whole Tarintino influence on this film and to tell the truth a lot of it was only apparent after the fact. Through most of the film I ignored it or was oblivious to it, because I was just enjoying the ride. This is a competently made film, with some wonderfully subdued camera work and very effective editing. “6ixtynin9” is a fun little film, and I look forward to the directors next effort.