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By the Time it Gets Dark

One of the most thrillingly assured experimental works of the last several years, Anocha Suwichakornpong’s second feature (following 2009’s Mundane History) is a deeply meditative and fractured remembrance of the Thammasat University Massacre of 1976, in which the right-wing state and paramilitary brutally cracked down on student protesters arguing that Thanom Kittikachorn, the exiled dictator, should not return to the country. Through her focus on ordinary resistors, both during the initial protests and at present as the country still grapples with its identity, Suwichakornpong crafts a vital narrative in which the “official story” is always around the corner but never pressing too hard on us. Far more than this, however, the film morphs timelines, histories, and personalities through a wildly inventive editing style and gorgeously crystalline cinematography by Ming-Kai Leung, culminating in a shape-shifting film that’s at times reflective and at others prismatic, slipping in and out of our grasp at will. “Suwichakornpong confidently defies conventional forms and linearity, embracing the cryptic nature of her various intersecting narrative threads. She collapses the past into the present as a way to probe the haunted recesses of both national and personal memory.”—Ben Nicholson, Sight & Sound.

Genres: Drama