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Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, November 11, 1999

‘Sunset’ glows with hilarity


By Burl Burlingame


This film is one of seven nominated for HIFF's
Golden Maile Award for feature films.

NO matter which way you slice it, and you can chop "Siam Sunset" into a thousand wriggling pieces, each little bit will be funny. That's the bottom line. Making audiences laugh is one of the hardest things to do. Let's hope there's a wide U.S. release.


Bullet Siam Sunset StarStarStar
Bullet Rated: No rating
Bullet Screens at: 6 p.m. Nov. 18, MACC Castle Theatre, Maui

The main character, Perry (Linus Roache, who was so oily in "Wings of a Dove"), seems like a shell-shocked Aiden Quinn. He has a fabulous only-in-the-movies job, the sort of employment that may not HIFF Logobe that interesting in real life but works really well for those watching over his shoulder, which is essentially what the audience does in this movie.

Perry is an industrial chemist for an English paint company, which means he's often mixing up great splatters of vivid color that spill across the big movie screen. Looks fab.

Alas, Perry's happy marriage ends abruptly -- in a gag that would do Krazy Kat proud -- and he's haunted by the memory of a particular color that played upon his wife's hair during a vacation in Thailand.

This color, "Siam Sunset" he calls it, becomes a type of Holy Grail, to the annoyance of his bosses, who want another shade of off-white.

Disasters and accidents dog Perry. Some are subtle. Some are not, as when a semi-truck smashes through his door and the driver admits missing his turn. Then, Perry wins an expenses-paid vacation to Australia during the holidays.

In Adelaide, Perry is placed with Australian tour company Whippets, and the movie is off and running. Literally. Perry's stuck on a bus rocketing across the desert with a variety of odd co-passengers, plus Grace, a pretty, pouty, mysterious woman picked up en route, who has wads of cash and an ex-boyfriend who'd like to see her dead.

Perry is horrified by it all. But Grace is interesting, and maybe the desert will yield the ingredients to Siam Sunset.

"Siam Sunset," the movie, is quirky and briskly paced, and director John Polson shows a positive gift for comic timing. Many of the jokes are big production numbers that appear out of nowhere, and some are appallingly cruel in a brawny, slap-your-back kind of way.

The background things are funny too, as when Perry buys a fancy holiday drink in an Aussie bar, and it's beer with a paper parasol.

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