2008 Certificate: 15


An obese Western scriptwriter and his tiny Thai girlfriend live out their modest, mundane existence in Thomas Clay's stately drama. Nice travelogue footage of Thailand and moments of sprightly humour pepper the movie, which then switches three-quarters of the way in to become something quite different. Fans of Clay's previous movie, The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael, will know what to expect, although there is more warmth and less shock this time around.


  • Thomas Clay


  • Nicolas Bro

  • Pimwalee Thampanyasan


Brit director Thomas Clay doesn't exactly court his audiences. Soi Cowboy's wet concrete pacing, dialogue free scenes, and prolonged takes will test the patience of even the most understanding movie buff.

And during this near plotless two hour movie, we get to watch the obese Tobias (Bro) take a very naked shower in real time while his pregnant Thai ladyfriend (Thampanyasan) blankly eats breakfast, and observe an old biddy zimmer frame down a hotel corridor for ages before stopping halfway and zimmer framing her way back.

Elsewhere, Tobias does some shopping, his unnamed bride-to-be watches telly or tidies up, and we discover there is a restaurant in Thailand named Cabbages and Condoms.

But, tubby Tobias and his girl's daily routine grows on you, and watching them bum around ancient ruins in a homage to Antonioni's L'Avventura is oddly agreeable.

At which point Clay turns his film into a gangster movie, shot in saturated colour with a low-level criminal trying to earn the bounty on his own brother's head.

What this finale means is up for debate - was that black and white sequence just the fantasy of a gangster's moll? Thampanyasan and Bro are seen in a kingpin's hangout in different roles. Or maybe it's there simply to justify the title - the film closes in a nightclub in Soi Cowboy, Bangkok's red light district.

Different then, but in no way essential.