Review – AGRARIAN UTOPIA (“Sawan baan na,” Uruphong Raksasad, 2009, Thailand)

SAWAN BAAN NA || 2009, Thailand || Drama || Directed by – Uruphong Raksasad / Produced by – Mai Meksawan, Pimpaka Towira / Screenplay by – Uruphong Raksasad / Editing by – Urupong Raksasad / Starring – Prayad Jumma, Sai Jumma, Sompong Jumma / Running time: 122 mins.

agrarianutopiaposterFilmmaker Uruphong Raksasad directed, wrote, shot and edited his film, Agrarian Utopia: a film which blends a fine line between documentary and drama, between realism and fiction.

Its story depicts the plights of small Thai landowners and agrarian workers who find it impossible to live a whole year without giving into accepting loans from sinister and untrustworthy city people. Eventually, they have no choice but the sell their land.

The film’s unflinching perspective – strengthened by a lack of music and complicated camera movements – makes enhances its realist aspects. The dialogue too feels quite genuine; sometimes it is as if it were being improvised by the actors, which wouldn’t be so hard to believe. For all its political activism, which makes clear references to the unstable situation with which poor land workers are met, including the lack of representation that they experience in politics, Agrarian Utopia is also a love letter to the pivotal agrarian lifestyle. The city always remains a very distant, far away world and when it comes in contact with the titular utopia, it is sinister and nothing ever good comes out of its intrusion.

This aspect of the film is embraced by the style of the film itself, which remains simple ; it speaks the language of its agrarian characters and is therefore convincingly sympathetic. – 4/5


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