Meat Grinder

Dir: Tiwa Moeithaisong
Star: Mai Charoenpura, Rattanaballang Tohssawat, Anuway Niwartwong, Wiradit Srimalai

Who knew cannibalism could be so... dull? While not short on the torture and gore, you spend most of the time watching the main character disintegrate into madness, while the movie makes unsubtle points about the cycle of violence repeating. Buss (Charoenpura) is damaged goods from the get-go, having been brought up in a highly dysfunctional family environment, and is now struggling to bring up her own daughter, having been abandoned by her husband. On the verge of being thrown out of their shabby apartment, her noodle cart is caught up in a riot, from which she's rescued by one of the student participants, Attaphol (Tohssawat). However, a dead body ends up stuffed inside the cart, and Buss takes advantage of this resource for her cooking. While it's a hit, and acts as a kickstarter for Buss's restaurant, the ingredient in question was a friend of Attaphol, and some "associates" of her husband are also sniffing around, looking to collect on his debts. Fresh meat...

All the pieces are there, but they get thrown together in such a haphazard manner as to make the end result almost incomprehensible. Who is this? What are they doing that? What's going on? I'm so confused... Even the time-frame and period is severely uncertain. I get that it's all supposed to represent the shattered state of Buus's sanity, and show how abuse begets abuse. However, all this proves is that watching someone else go mad, is about as interesting as watching someone else take drugs (hello, The Trip!), and we're never given much reason to sympathize with the central character. Pretty much the first time we see Buss, she's nailing someone's hand to the floor, one finger at a time, hardly an exercise in how to win audience empathy. Yet neither are we given any reason to feel for the victims, who arguably deserve their fates, and don't have the excuse of insanity to plead. If well-crafted, throwing a wild palette of cinematic styles and colours onto the screen, it doesn't capture your attention, and I found myself distracted, only paying attention during the grand guignol set-pieces.

[February 2015]

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