Straight to MIFF from Directors' Fortnight at Cannes 2002, Pen-ek Ratanaruang's third feature - following Fun Bar Karaoke (1997) and 6ixtynin9 (MIFF 2000) - is a romantic action musical comedy with, not surprisingly, a hard-to-pin-down genre sensibility. The story follows the mixed fortunes of dim-witted hunk Pan in his drive to carve out a singing career. A regular singer at local temple fairs, he meets and falls for Sadaw. They wed, Sadaw becomes pregnant and Pan is drafted into the army. But the life on stage calls, and going AWOL is just the first of several problems Pan must contend with as he heads for the big time and bright lights of Bangkok.
"Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Mon-Rak Transistor is an amazing achievement. It takes retro elements - tearful melodrama, Thai country-and-western classics - and filters them through a comic sensibility. Better yet, it's not an exercise in postmodern irony but a touching and deathlessly sincere picture. Laughter and tears, philosophy and bowel-cleansing tonics in one matchless package." - Screen International
Pen-ek Ratanaruang (born in Bangkok, Thailand, 1962) studied in New York from 1977 to 1985. He worked in Thailand as an illustrator, graphic designer and art director before directing internationally award-winning television commercials. He has also directed Fun Bar Karaoke (1997) and 6ixtynin9 (MIFF 2000).