Occasionally, artists experience a creative low point in their careers, usually linked to a personal crisis or a feeling of being stuck. In an interview with HollywoodChicago Thai director and actor Ping Lumpraploeng states it was this kind of crisis which inspired his script for “The Pool”, a blend of drama and thriller. He considers the situation of the characters, while certainly exaggerated, a reflection of his feelings ten years ago, but also his drive to escape this emotional dead end. Given the personal connection of the story, Lumpraploeng decided, as with many of his other films, to focus on a minimal setting and the internal struggles of his characters faced with an extreme situation.

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Even though he has been working for many years within the film industry, the job of art director Day (Theeradej Wongpuapan) has not become less demanding. Indeed, the opposite is true, since, for his new job on the set of an ad campaign, he had to organize a six-meter-deep pool among other things, leaving no time for his girlfriend Koi (Ratnamon Ratchiratham).

As the cast and crew leave the pool after the end of the shoot, Day decides to stay a while longer, finally having some time for himself and to relax before the next job. However, as he wakes up on the inflatable raft, he realizes he is unable to get out of the pool since it is almost half empty and the water level is sinking by the minute. While he tries to figure out how to escape, he finds his situation has become increasingly more dangerous because a female crocodile has found its way into the pool.

While the overall structure and setting of his film is certainly minimal, Lumpraploeng manages to direct a movie utilizing these confinements quite cleverly. Especially due to the lead performance by actor Theeradej Wongpuapan, the audience is able to follow the various stages of desperation and doubt, but overall the unwillingness to just give up, which is somewhat ironic for a man who has abandoned any future progress in his relationship since he feels he may be unable to offer anything worthwhile to Koi or their son or daughter.

In general, the struggle of the main character not to give up and let his life be dictated by circumstance is mirrored by the terrible situation he finds himself in. Using what little he has, he searches for a way to get out of the pool while also fending of the crocodile, an animal always watchful and unpredictable. However, especially in the more dramatic scenes, the CGI of the creature does not always work in favor of creating the necessary suspense and tension. When the camera focuses on the desperate struggle to stay concentrated, to find escapes or shows the silent duels of Day watching the creature and vice versa, the film certainly finds many good and tense moments.

However, especially in the last third of the movie, Lumpraploeng’s script starts to show its weaknesses and begins to falter. Rather than sticking to the themes and elements already established, the film starts to add more and more obstacles in the way of the characters, which comes at the price of a loss of credibility and dramatic impact.

In the end, “The Pool” is a solid effort in blending drama and thriller, mainly supported by good performances and many fine, quite moments highlighting the tension of the situation. While its structure and use of CGI does not always work in the favor of the film, “The Pool” may still be a worthwhile watch for filmfans.

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Ever since I watched Takeshi Kitano's "Hana-Bi" for the first time (and many times after that) I have been a cinephile. While much can be said about the technical aspects of film, coming from a small town in Germany, I cherish the notion of art showing its audience something which one does normally avoid, neglect or is unable to see for many different reasons. Often the stories told in films have helped me understand, discover and connect to something new which is a concept I would like to convey in the way I talk and write about films. Thus, I try to include some info on the background of each film as well as a short analysis (without spoilers, of course), an approach which should reflect the context of a work of art no matter what genre, director or cast. In the end, I hope to pass on my joy of watching film and talking about it.