The film is told in flashback when 21 year old Oat gets summoned for military lottery. He recounts the days and events, when his elder brother Ek had to go through the same. A decade earlier, after their father passed away, Oat and his elder brother Ek were living with their aunt. Ek worked at a local bar as bartender to support his family. He has been dating Jai, a rich young man from a respected family, since he was in high school. Despite everyone warning him that the social class difference will one day affect their love, Ek doesn’t believe it. Everyone is hoping that by miracle Ek won’t have to go to military. One day, Oat observes that Jai’s father is bribing local officials to get their son out of military, he decides to take matters in his hand and do something for his brother. He steals money form local goon, whose bar Ek works at so he can bribe him back. IT makes the situation worse and now Ek is moved from bar to working ‘upstairs’, essentially becoming prostitue. The fateful day of military lottery arrives and Ek witnesses himself the betrayal by his love to dodge the military. Ek gets drafted to military and a year later gets killed. But its the time and love and affection shared by his brother that will make Oat a strong independent man. As Oat tries to learn how to best his brother in Checkers, he learns that for someone to win, the opponent has to lose, whether it’s fair or not.
While watching the film, I thought it was quite interesting but I am appreciating it even more while I am writing this piece. Apparently the film is based on two short stories and i am quite impressed with the way the director has put the two stories into a beautiful film together. The overall story is simple, yet well told, with convincing performances. As mentioned before, Ek’s openly gay relationship features prominently in the story, it is more of a side note when compared to the film’s illustration of social class differences and corruption. And I am glad that neither gays or transgendered were made a big deal about in the film. The film is an inspiring coming-of-age story, in which a young boy seeks to transition to adulthood by beating his older brother at his favourite game. In this process he learn things about life, his brother’s life, growing awareness of sexuality and alternate sexual identity. The brother share an absolute crackling chemistry and not once you think that they are not real brothers. Th love, affection and care shown by Ek to his little brother is very very admirable.
A sweet and well-observed family drama, set in rural Thailand may not teach you anything about checkers but it will definitely leave you impressed. (7.5/10)