The inspiration for MYSTERIOUS OBJECT AT NOON was the Surrealist storytelling technique known as Exquisite Corpse, wherein a variety of writers would contribute to an ongoing story one sentence at a time, largely oblivious to what came before. Thai independent filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul used this technique to interview people throughout Thailand, asking them to contribute to the film's evolving story, and, in the process, learning a little bit about their vivid, largely unexamined lives. What emerges is at once a portrait of Thailand's disenfranchised lower classes -- farmers, fruit vendors, village performers -- and their collective story about a handicapped boy and his tutor, a mysterious woman named Dogfahr.
A bit of patience is required to tap into the subtle pleasures of this lo-fi but lovely Thai film, and those willing to ride out its fragmented structure will be rewarded with a quirky meta-documentary about the nature of storytelling. Director and Thai native Apichatpong Weerasethakul took a volunteer crew into the southern and northern villages of Thailand over a three-year period, and asked the residents to contribute to a story about a wheelchair-bound boy and his tutor. The result is a sort of organic version of the Surrealist writing exercise known as Exquisite Corpse, shot through with the melodrama of Thai popular media. Weersethakul's 16mm footage is often overexposed, but the experiment itself, and the opportunities it affords to witness everyday life in rural Thailand, makes up for any technical quibbles. Plexifilm's DVD includes an eight-minute interview with the director, in which he discusses his motivations for the film. --Paul Gaita