Plot / Synopsis
Tul is about to see his world turned upside down. When we first meet him, he’s been sent a package of photos and data, which he examines and then promptly puts through the shredder. He shaves his head, dons a monk’s robes, and walks onto the gated estate belonging to the man in the photos. Tul then takes a pistol and fires a bullet into the man’s neck. More shots are fired, one of them hitting Tul in the head. Everything turns black. When Tul wakes up three months later, all that he sees is inverted. Is it some bizarre brain injury, or some form of karmic retribution? In the disorienting world of Headshot, such questions linger, and draw us closer to its violence and mystery.
Based on Win Lyovarin’s novel Rain Falling Up the Sky, Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s Headshot is a noirish thriller about the corruption that infects both contemporary Bangkok and the human spirit. Over the course of the film’s chronologically complex narrative, we come to learn about the extraordinary events that transformed Tul from a straight-laced detective into an assassin working for a group seeking to eliminate all those who deem themselves above the law. Those events involve an unspeakably gorgeous young stranger (who informs Tul right off that she “likes cops”), a bloodied corpse in a tub, a drug bust, an attempted bribe and a book about man’s inherently evil nature, something Tul initially finds curious but gradually begins to feel might be all too true.
Working with his regular cinematographer, Chankit Chamnivikaipong, Pen-ek evokes Tul’s journey into the underworld in unusually muted and dusky tones. Vichaya Vatanasapt’s music gives us a sense of perpetually downward movement. And in Jayanama, with whom the director has now worked twice, Headshot finds its perplexed soul, always struggling to make the closest thing to a moral choice in a deeply immoral world.