ETHEREAL CREATURE Traces The Complex History Of Two Girl’s Friendship
Two friends go on a journey to return a forbidden fruit that they had stolen from a mythical tree fairy.
Director: Tinnashine Mongkolmont
Cast: Nattamon Chokejindachai, Waranyaa Punamsap
Runtime: 19 mins
In Ethereal Creature, Tien (Nattamon Chokejindachai) attempts to return the forbidden Nariphon fruit, in fear of the repercussions. She convinces her friend Gene (Waranyaa Punamsap), who had been with her at the time of theft, to help her return the fruit. Though initially reluctant, Gene eventually accedes to her request.
The Nariphon fruit is something of a legend in Thai mythology, but disclaimer alert: I knew nothing about the myth prior to the film — and still don’t know much, to be honest. My current understanding of it is limited to what I’ve learnt about it on Google, and my interpretation of the film’s plot and themes therefore comes from a layman’s point of view, which might be lacking in certain areas.
The story doesn’t seem to simply be about two women seeking out an elusive creature and its tree. Instead, as friends who have seemingly grown apart over the years, their journey through the forest feels more like them navigating and reminiscing old memories from the past.
As an extension of that, their search for this creature evokes a metaphor for their friendship, whereby getting back their friendship isn’t as easy as it seems. With Gene being guided by her superstitions, and Tien, as a sceptic, wanting something more tangible, their contrasting ideas on their friendship seem to make it clear that they can never go back to the way they were.
The film’s mood shifts as they get closer to finding the tree. While initially pretty tranquil and laidback as their easy banter fills the atmosphere, the mystical, almost fantastical music builds up suspense for the elusive tree. This lurking tension translates into their interactions as well, where their conversations with one another grow to be more strained and uneasy.
This film seems to be a straightforward, innocuous film, though there are layers that hide beneath the surface of its metaphors and tensions. Open-ended and contemplative, Ethereal Creature grapples with the complexities that complicate the friendship between two women.
Ethereal Creature has been selected to take part in the SeaShorts Competition at the 2019 SeaShorts Film Festival, which will be held in Malacca from 25 – 29 September 2019. You can catch Ethereal Creature at the festival, along with many other excellent Southeast Asian films, by registering for a pass via Peatix.
About SeaShorts Film Festival
SeaShorts is an annual celebration of Southeast Asian short film featuring film screenings, forums, workshops, exhibitions, and music performances by filmmakers. Its inaugural edition was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2017.
Across its past two editions, over 1500 filmmakers and cinephiles from the region came together to watch, indulge and celebrate the complex buffet of ASEAN stories, as well as learn about the latest independent filmmaking techniques through film screenings, forums, masterclasses, and workshops.
Visit their Facebook page for more information.