Movie Review: ARNOLD IS A MODEL STUDENT: A Disjointed But Subtly Powerful Study Of Authority, Morality, And Righteousness [Locarno 2022]

Korndanai Marc Dautzenberg Arnon pen nakrian tuayang 01

Arnold is a Model Student Review

Arnold is a model student / Arnon feather nakrian tuayang (2022) Film review from the 75th Annual Locarno film Festival, a movie Written and directed by Sorayos Prapapanstarring Korndanai Marc Dautzenberg, Siriboon Naddhabhan, Winyu Wongsurawat, yanin pongsuwan, Niramon BusapavanichY Virot Ali.

Younger generations are always at the forefront of revolutions and cultural changes: out with the old, in with the new, and away from the conservative shackles of tradition. In many ways, children are always, for sure, fine.


Sorayos Prapapan takes advantage of this feeling with his first film Arnon feather nakrian tuayang: a disjointed but astute dissection of the Thai educational system, and a moral play about staying strong in an increasingly immoral world.

Established at the end of the current school semester and continuing through the next year, Arnon feather nakrian tuayang (or “Arnold is a model student” in English) opens with the incumbent Arnold (Korndanai Marc Dautzenberg) being praised at a school-wide assembly for an amazing academic record and a recent win at the International Mathematical Olympiad. His image-obsessed headmaster (Virot Ali) covers the school’s entrance with a large banner of Arnold adorned with a trophy, displaying victory as an increase in stature for the community. Meanwhile, Arnold enjoys his wave of adoration and favoritism during the beginning of his senior year by pranking his peers, showing up late to class, sneaking out during breaks for whiskey and smoking, and making memes about his uptight professor ( Niramon Busapavanich).

While Arnold is able to escape discipline with barely a scratch, his peers are not so lucky: hair that is too long or dyed is forcibly cut off; minor dress code infractions result in demerits on students’ personal records; and teachers openly mock and ridicule students for the slightest questioning of their authority. When one of Arnold’s students (Siriboon Naddhabhan) discovers a teacher beating up a group of children, she organizes classroom walkouts and campus protests to demand a complete structural overhaul of the school’s hierarchy. Her move quickly gains a following and momentum, much to the annoyance of the headmaster and the rest of his staff.

But it is among all these suspected troublemakers that Arnold is opportunistically absent. He may go on strike to skip classes, but he refuses to put his name on a petition calling for administrative reform (as he fears it will hamper his college prospects the following year). Likewise, he doesn’t join his friends at their rallies, but instead hangs out on the outskirts of other pro-democracy protests whenever he’s feeling cranky, most likely just to appear dangerous and worry others. the his mother. Instead, Arnold uses his free time to get extra money from a tutoring scammer (Winyu Wongsurawat), and as senior year progresses, he drifts further and further away from his classmates as he isolates himself in his own bubble. success.

That bubble is where Prapapan really comes into focus, questioning what the titular phrase “model student” implies and, on a more basic level, what it means to be a good person. Arnold is a smart kid who gets good grades and knows how to behave when it matters (i.e. when authority is present), but he still breaks the law and in doing so allows others to further exploit the educational system through his current paycheck. . settings to play. The moral dilemma posed by the film is not whether or not he will be caught, but whether or not he can live by propagating such a corrupt system. Prapapan’s slow and subtle build for this thematic reveal really packs a punch in its final shots, as the film juxtaposes Arnold’s utter loneliness on his path to personal success with his peers’ sense of community in their campaign and movement protests. BadStudent.

But “slow and subtle” is the catchphrase, and it takes the movie a while to really adjust to that pace, let alone the characterization of Arnold himself. Arnold understandably has his issues – an early scene of conflict with his teacher reveals his father being a French expat and alleged journalist who was recently deported for political dissent, as well as his flaws, outside the circle of cheating he mocks. less. -brilliant classmates giving them false information to recite for embarrassment in class, but he is no more cruel or malicious than any other teenager. However, Prapapan in his slice-of-life approach can’t decide on a particular way to frame Arnold to the audience, oscillating between sympathetic, shallow, empathetic, and rude. The end result feels disjointed: a complex character presented in the most edgy and superficial way.

The film in general has similar problems of identity, unsure of where inject comedy and What to do it. The frequent distortion of wide-angle lenses and hyperfocus in the school’s dedication to conservative cultural mannerisms provoke an absurd bent, but Prapapan never really commits to that approach. Even when given the benefit of the doubt through his life essence, he moves from one scene to the next rather clumsily, making the overall execution quite stilted. That gets sorted out in the second half, of course, but that still leaves us with a raw 40 minutes at the front.

Anyway, the way Prapapan is able to turn things around and end on such a strong note in a single movie, an 80-minute long one, no less! – suggests a dignified cinematic voice on the horizon. This is a messy movie about fighting to stand up for your truth… and I guess it makes sense that the movie itself metaphorically reflects its content.

Classification: 6/10

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