Jean Ma is the author of At the Edges of Sleep: Moving Images and Somnolent Spectators. At Stanford University, she is the Victoria and Roger Sant Professor in Art and the Denning Family Director of the Stanford Arts Institute.
Kanokporn Tongaram, Min Oo, Jenjira Jansuda, Sa-gnad Chaiyapan,
As in Édouard Manet’s deliciously “indecent” painting Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, something bawdy but baleful lurks inside the bliss of Blissfully Yours. A respite from everyday anguish lures two happy couples into a lush jungle, with its meandering river and cushioning banks. This green profusion exists along the northwest Thai border, where refugees from Burma flee political repression. In Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s steamy film, political injustice is subtly ever-present, like the hum of insect life in the forest. But this day-in-the-country is about something else entirely—the dilemma of knowing when you’re truly happy. The young Roong and her Burmese lover, Min, enter the jungle alone, only to encounter Orn, an older friend, and Tommy, her illicit beau. The day is spent languishing in the heat, indulging in ribald excess, and keeping the woes of the world at bay. Weerasethakul’s beautifully rendered meditation conjures a fictitious contentment, a blissful state, where the other, the repressive State, is forgotten in this happy hour.