Film Review: "Pop-Aye" heartily discusses the elephant in the room
There’s something so captivating about a midlife crisis: Just what exactly can a spontaneous trip to Thailand or excessively purchasing antiques on eBay possibly atone?
‘Pop-Aye’ is a Thailand/Singaporean film that features the worlds best midlife crisis: Thana, an ageing architect past his prime escapes from his depleting lifestyle by spontaneously purchasing an elephant, Pop-Aye. Together they traverse to Thana’s childhood village, meeting quirky and allegorical characters along the way.
Buoyed by a fantastic screenplay and boasting irresistible charm within its human and elephant stars, ‘Pop-Aye’ wears its heart on its sleeve, in all its ridiculous nature. Though occasionally the emotions presented on screen aren’t perfectly translated into audience’s starry eyes, the film still offers itself as a beautiful, honest and loving gesture on the realities of ageing.
‘Pop-Aye’s heart finds its place within its fantastic array of peculiar sub characters, each with a haunting and complex marvel to them; each with an idea, a dream, and a rich life story full of twists and turns that are as engaging as they are moving. Each character carries a portion of the film's emotional weight, some humorous, others heartbreaking, all important.
These characters are plastered across stunning Thailand scenery, captured with a gorgeous pastel colour scheme that compliments everything from cities to forests. The soundtrack follows with an equally stunning and peculiar array of vintage slow-dancing themes, echoey pedal steels wavering behind plucky guitars (see Johnny & Santo).
What is it to be human? What is it to be alive? Well, what is it to be an elephant? Lovers still love or lack thereof, time moves just as fast, and the trek home is still just as far. Perhaps we aren’t perfect or even second best. Maybe we were born in the wrong body, or perhaps we lost our only chance at love? These are oddly existential themes for a movie about a dude and an elephant.
‘Pop-Aye’ isn’t perfect; it suffers from some pacing issues and an emotional core that struggles in the first two acts. However, regardless of any detriment, it showcases a true sense of humanity. With cunning and heart-wrenching characters, a loveable premise, and spectacular craftsmanship, ‘Pop-Aye’ sets itself as a fantastic adoration and exploration into the human heart.
Our love and happiness are only as stable as the foundations we build them on, but a crumbling tower is just a clean slate for a beautiful block.