1999, Movie, NR, 115 mins


A newly laid-off office worker's decision to keep a box full of dirty money pits her against an ever-escalating set of complications — the biggest being the bodies piling up in her small apartment — in this dark comedy from Thailand. Tum (Lalita Panyopas), who's just lost her job in the midst of a punishing economic downturn, is so broke she's considering suicide when a cardboard box containing one million baht appears outside her door. Tum isn't stupid — she knows the money spells trouble. But she can't help herself: She stashes it under the bed, calls her flighty girlfriend Jim (Tasanawalai Ongartittichai) for advice — just theoretical advice, mind you — and when toughs Noi and Berm come asking about the box, Tum denies having seen it. They get rough, so she whacks one over the head with a vase and stabs the other — he is strangling her at the time. Putting the box back is no longer an option. After thinking long and hard about going to the police, Tum comes up with a plan: She stashes one body in a wicker trunk and the other in the closet, then tracks down a fellow who once got a fake visa for a friend of hers. Unfortunately, preening counterfeit-visa procurer Kanjit (Lack Phomtong) is also the rightful owner of the mysterious money, — profits from a fixed fight that were misdelivered because of a simple confusion of apartment numbers. The box was destined for apartment 9, but the 6 on Tum's door is loose and slips upside-down. Tum places her order for papers and goes looking for a second wicker trunk while Kanjit sends a second pair of goons, Some-arng and Suparp, to look for the first. They find the bodies and a photo that tips them off to Tum's identity. Meanwhile, building-busybody Yen (Sritao) is starting to wonder why Tum's apartment is busier than a rush-hour bus station, and downstairs neighbor Pen (Sirisin Siripornsmathikul) is convinced that Tum is having an affair with her boyfriend and begins plotting her revenge. Every time Tum comes home, she has to clean up after another messy demise. Though Quentin Tarantino's influence is clear, writer-director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang imbues this material with an engaging energy and a bittersweet undercurrent of alienated sorrow that makes it seem fresh. Much of the film's appeal rests with Thai soap-opera actress Panyopas, whose bittersweet charm smoothes over the uglier aspects of Tum's spiral into crime. A U.S. production company began developing a remake in 2002. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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