Pann (Apinya Sakuljaroensuk), a high school student in Bangkok, lives with her aunt and frequently skips lessons with her best friend. Her older sister, Pinn (Akumsiri Suwannasuk), previously moved to Singapore under mysterious circumstances and the two are virtually estranged from each other. Their mother lives in Padang Besar, a border town in the south (also the film’s original name) at least until one less than auspicious day when she visits her youngest daughter in Bangkok – a visit Pann is very reluctant to receive. However, while Pann pretends she has extra classes to attend in order to escape, her mother collapses after singing karaoke and dies in hospital. Pann and Pinn must then transport her body back home to Padang Besar, driven by Tor (Torpong Kul-on) a.k.a. the comedy relief.
And comedy relief is certainly welcome as otherwise this is an extremely slow film. Engrossing and beautiful, but very slow. There are actually more laughs than you might expect but this is no comedy but a slow (did I already mention the slow?) moving relationship-based road trip drama. With minimal dialogue, there’s a lot of inferring and reading between the lines to be done, as you try to figure out just what pushed the three women of this family apart. Director, Tongpong Chantarangkul, makes good use of reflective surfaces and distant framing to capture the mood of his characters (if perhaps too often, rather hammering the point home).
Despite the rather morbid circumstances, this is not a film about death but about family, and how disconnected its closest members can become. Despite her stroppy teenager-ness, Pann can still evoke sympathy, as she seems so lost and anchorless; while Pinn’s apparently strong sense of duty and responsibility seems at odds with her decision to disappear to another country. It isn’t until a rather expositional rush towards the end of the film that you actually discover why she decided to make the move in the first place.
There’s currently no expected UK release date for I Carried You Home, which is a shame but not very surprising. At most, I’d say it’s a candidate for limited release at the ICA if ever I saw one.