In terms of home entertainment, online portals have served the ultimate breakthrough goals. The range of web series, movies and animes addressing societal issues is becoming extensive. The BL (Boys Love) industry has been around for a couple of years but has seen a current boost in viewers owing to the rising sense of social justice in the young generations and partly because of a mode of overcoming the pandemic boredom. As a viewer, the visual portrayal of the wonderfully written scripts and eye candy casts are more than rewarding. Even as a forever advocate of LGBTQ+ rights and causes, certain visual art depictions have hit me critically in ways I hardly recognised in terms of emotional viability. The Thai series, I Told Sunset About You, is one such gem.
Produced by: Nadao Bangkok
Directed by: Naruebet Kuno
Genre: Romance, Drama, Coming-of-age
Country of Origin: Thailand
Network: LINE TV
No of Episodes: 5
No of Seasons: 2 (the 2nd season, I Promised You The Moon, is currently airing)
IMDb Rating: 9.1/10
MyDramaList Rating: 8.4/10
The lead actors, Putthipong Assaratanakul aka Billkin(Teh) and Krit Amnuaydechkorn aka PP (Oh-aew), have previously worked together as supporting cast in the series, My Ambulance, directed and produced by the same team. The audience shipped the couple extensively and as a result, I Told Sunset About You, happened. This is their first BL series together. Both of them exhibit immense exuberance and their chemistry is aesthetically pleasing. In terms of the acting skills they demonstrate, it is raw and the buildup is extensive and perfect.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
The storyline is nothing sort of new, neither are the emotions delivered. It is a rather cliched script - friends to foes whose bond transcends gradually to lovers. Close childhood friends, Teh and Oh-aew, from Phuket (the capital city of Phuket Island, Thailand) grow distant due to their clashing dreams of becoming actors when they grow up. Years later, the friends turned rivals happen to have a chance encounter at a cram school while prepping for university entrances. Teh receives the call from his desired university but Oh doesn't. In an attempt to free himself of the guilt of a worthless fight and to rekindle their bond, Teh proposes to coach Oh privately. This triggers a beautiful chain of events that strings together the elements of renewed friendship, confusing love, impulsive actions and regrets all summed up to give birth to an enigma of a story.
What was brilliant and worked for the pair was the paced storytelling and refreshing imagery. The peaceful and scenic backdrop of Phuket at every instance created the vibe of calm in retrospect to the storm brewing within the characters regarding newfound love, but love which is questioned by society. The actors animate the thriving feelings, silently seeping into the crevices of their very being; feelings between childhood friends that borders on being best friends on one hand and something more on the other. The dialogues are limited and well-scripted, enabling the viewers to comprehend volumes expressed through the unadulterated silence. The soft music score affixed artistically and aptly adds to the ambience. Having said that it delivers feelings that stir up the tear glands, a streak of humour is also painted onto the picture here and there. Thus, making it an absolute delight for the shippers and casual audience alike.
P.S. the series has a fabulous OST worth checking out.
Teh is shown to be impulsive and confused - his love for his best friend was taking a completely different shape, he felt jealously build up because of Bas (Oh-aew's crush, who also happens to be his schoolmate). Even Teh's kiss with Tarn (Teh's love interest) was evidence of his jealousy being stirred up by Oh's study date with Bas. When his confusion diffuses and he admits to his love, he is bogged with fear; fear of facing the deprecatory views of society. Teh's ultimate sacrifice of forfeiting his university seat for Oh finally moulds and names their feelings into selfless love.
Oh-aew on the other hand is a completely go with the flow, honest individual. The change moulding the friends' bond is evident and he is more open to being in love. But when Teh is hell-bent on tagging their sentiments as fleeting moments, Oh's self-esteem crumbles. A powerful scene is played out where Oh-aew tries out a red bra - symbolic of the mess his sexuality being rejected by Teh brought about. In full honesty, I loved his crying scenes - this isn't about my sadistic ego gaining pleasure out of his sorrow, but a genuine heartfelt connection to the emotions he wanted to portray.
The supporting cast has been well planned. The common friends, the individual love interests of the main protagonists and their families: all characters have been well scripted and allowed considerable screen time. Bas plays the ultimate second hero; kind, caring and bold in expressing his interest in Oh-aew. Teh pursues Tarn, his two-year-old long crush ardently, patiently waiting for her answer. But Tarn is ambitious and free-spirited, refusing to be in a relationship lest it hinders her chances of being an architect. In the end, she forces out the dormant, sealed angst within Teh thus freeing him from his shell. Teh's elder brother, Hoon sweeps along as the much-needed support and assurance for him and his ongoing dilemma.
There are several mentionable remarkable scenes throughout the series, but my absolute favourites are:
Episode 2: It was endearing to watch Teh scratch Oh-aew's back every time he scrunched up his nose. It depicted the closeness of their bond.
Episode 3: Teh realises he loves the smell of coconut which he previously loathed. Oh-aew's shampoo is coconut scented. This significantly shows the start of the shift in the lens through which Teh views his friend.
Episode 3: The hibiscus flower and hammock scene, where they admit their attraction to each other. Red hibiscus symbolises flaming passion and deep profound love.
Episode 3: Oh-aew writes out the Chinese characters for male protagonists 'Nan Zhu Jue' and questions Teh about the consequence of having a pair of Nan Zhu Jue instead.
Episode 4: The Underwater kiss scene. This was the boiling point for as a viewer you wish they kiss and finally, it happens and the giddy, happy sensation makes you realise the wait was worth it.
Episode5: Bas publicly confesses to Oh-aew. It is heartbreaking because Teh realises he is too late as he sits there listening and silently shedding tears of regret.
Episode5: Teh and Hoon's conversation when Teh confesses to loving Oh-aew.
Episode5: Teh smells handwritten papers of Oh trying to gather up his lingering essence.
Reasons I recommend the title
I have watched my fair share of BL dramas and movies. I Told Sunset About You stood out for the depiction felt at home. It expressed raw newfound love, the normal progression in a relationship (note which is majorly lacking in many of the others). The disregard to accepting self first - but rather focused on how society views us is an absolute dark truth. Unlike many other BL series based on the format of lust turns to love, this held out in the run as a beautiful handwritten friendship developing into love. Plus, the title itself awakes your inner romantic from its slumber. The second season, I Promised You The Moon, is airing and with only two episodes out it has become an instant hit. I couldn't help with the spoilers, the series is beautiful. I hands down recommend it. Go watch it.
Image Source~ IMDb, Tumblr, My Drama List
Video Source~ YouTube
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