17 January 2009


A feel-good comedy for everyone, Happy-Go-Lucky is just a perfect film for those who think they have a bad day. Poppy, the protagonist, is exactly what the film title says. She is just happy. But what is interesting in the film is that her happiness and positive attitude are constantly tested by everyday happenings. Her bike is stolen, some people stare at her, her driving instructor thinks she's stupid, and a shop assistant refuses to talk to her.

Somehow the film makes me realise that it's so hard to be happy in contemporary society. In order to survive in this 'liveless' society, people naturally put up barriers, as part of their self-defence mechanism and this mechanism in turn exacerbates the hellish condition of the city. Poppy, probably recognising this, refuses to act like other people. She just shines and people's reactions don't deter her from continuing to be simply nice and pleasant.

However, one can't ignore the fact that she's quite lucky. She's got good friends, especially Zoe, who can lend her a shoulder to cry on, a good relationships with friends at work, and a good boyfriend. Perhaps this is the bare necessities for one to be nice. If she's got no one to start with, one wonders whether Poppy will have this attitude. But of course one can't deny that with this happy-go-lucky attitude people are naturally attracted to her. I, for one, don't like her at the beginning of the film, finding her pretty annoying and loud, but towards the end I just can't help falling in love with her and just wish that the world should be populated by more people like her.

The scene where she refuses to let Scott, the driving instructor, drive his car (the role marvellously played by Eddie Marsan, shows that Poppy's positive attitude is not just mindless cheerfulness, but a carefully thought out one. She wills herself to be that way so that people around her can be more cheerful and nice to each other. But of course this can be easily misinterpreted, as Scott thinks that she tries to lure him through what he thinks is female guile. Another scene that is worth mentioning is her strange encounter with a homeless guy. With her response 'I know', one can't help but wonder how much she does know. But it is my personal belief that she actually knows what is going on.

Now, with all these reflections in mind, I just think that if there're real people who think like Poppy, I should like to applaud them. The reason is because these people know sorrow only too well and are very sensitive to what is going on in the world. They are, in other words, receptive to the evils that are happening in the world. It's likely that this kind of people will suffer from mental illnesses more than ordinary people. One of the mechanisms to prevent these illnesses is of course to sport a happy-go-lucky attitude. But soon enough realisation and depression will come in through back doors and they'll end up in hospital beds faster than 'normal' people who are so cold and indifferent.

12 January 2009

The Happiness of Kapi

Dear Kapi

I know you will find this letter one day. You must be grown up now and probably lead a happy life in a hi-so condo in Bangkok. I think you must now be grown up enough to stomach the whole reality. What you've just seen in the film in which I am both the co-director and the main financial supporter is just one side of the story. Of course I decided to make the film so that you can better learn about our special relationship. It's meant to be used in conjunction with the big cabinet full of drawers that I managed to categorise and catalogue my life for you. (Do I need to tell you that I'm a very neat person? My neatness is part of the OCD syndrome that I've long been suffering from. One of the symptoms is my need to make sure all drawers in that cabinet are full of rubbish that I want to give to you. Don't throw any of them away. Even though I have died, I'm still keeping my eyes on you.)

Kapi, I think I'd better come clean with you. The reason that I needed to leave you with Grandpa and Grandma that day is not because I needed to do what I had promised. I know you probably believe that the accident that day made me feel too guilty to raise you up and that I needed to do what I promised -- not to be near you or to touch you again because I was such a careless lady. No, even the dumbest person would probably find my reason weak and lame. Of course, I could've jumped into the water to help you, but because I was wearing Coco Chanel that day so I just couldn't. Also, because to be honest, I somehow wanted to get rid of you that day but you survived. You were too lucky, Kapi.

That day was very significant. I just talked to your father, Ant Thin Summin, a Burmese janitor with whom I fell in love whilst I was in Burma. Of course, my parents disagreed with our romance and said that I could've found a better person who were from the upper-middle class, not this low life whose salary was not even enough to support my lunch. Have I told you that I worked in the Burmese embassy as my father (yes, your grandpa) helped support the Junta in legal matters? I couldn't help but fall in love with Ant Thin Summin at first sight while he was cleaning the embassy toilet. I got pregnant soon after and you, Kapi, were the product of our class-free romance. However, Thin Summin later betrayed me. He found himself a British gay sugar daddy who promised to take him to the UK. He didn't hesitate to fly with that big fat old farang of course. I felt sad and suicidal. The accident that day was, I need to say, partly intentional. I just wanted to get rid of you Kapi. You just reminded me of my miserable relationship with that Burmese guy who was confused with his sexuality.

I couldn't kill you that day because Thong, the little twat, found out. With guilt, I just couldn't face you anymore. I decided to give you to Grandpa and Grandma and leave for the UK to look for Thin Summin. I found him and he changed his name to Anthony Summers. What a shameless guy! Of course he spurned me for the second time. I didn't have enough money to buy my flight back. Grandpa and Grandma were so furious that they didn't give me money anymore. I had no choice but to prostitute myself and found myself infected with HIV. That's when I thought I needed to fly home and spend the last days of my life with you Kapi. Also, I needed to make sure you would get what you should -- that hi-so condo and a holiday home in Hua Hin. These I bought with money I saved from my 'trip' to the UK. Don't tell anyone, Kapi, but the real world is not as clean as what you saw in the film. (Do you remember Pierre? He's one of my customers. I sent him to see you to check whether you're OK.)

By the way, Kapi, could you do me a favour? Can you promise me that you'll not show this film to other people, especially those with red shirts? They will surely not be happy with our hi-so lifestyle. Our misery is so light and pale in comparison with theirs. Here we're concerned only with whether you'll want to see your father or not, but there they're probably concerned with what to eat or where to sleep tomorrow. Do I need to tell you that not everyone have in an immaculate traditional Thai pavilion, a holiday home in Hua Hin, a duplex condo in the city centre, and a Grandma who can speak French? This film should be kept a secret between you and me ok?

I love you so much Kapi and I still remember the days when we were sleeping together in a little seaside bungalow with white curtains overseeing a white horse. The whole setting was so fashionable and seemed like it just came fresh out of a music video. Or was it a music video that I remember?

Au revoir,

Your Mom xx