Bangkok Girl

Bangkok Girl

2005, Society  -   133 Comments
8.29
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Ratings: 8.29/10 from 350 users.

"Farang"... meaning "stranger" or "Western tourist" is one of the first words that children in Bangkok learn. In this tourist heaven what makes the headlines is not the exquisite Thailand countryside... but the sex trade, and the "Farang" who come to exploit it. An estimated 800,000 girls and women work the night scene in Thailand. This is a story of one...

Bangkok is Thailand's modern bustling capital. Day and night, six million souls are on the move. The guidebooks call it "the land of 15 million smiles", something that attracts almost 12 million tourists every year. They say that if you can't find it in Bangkok then it doesn't exist. There almost everything is up for grabs and the reason is pretty simple - lack of jobs and poverty.

In Bangkok a typical day's pay is $8, and in the north $2. It's no wonder young girls from up country head for the bright lights and the opportunity to work. Sex sells, it always has. It blossomed during the Vietnam War and now it thrives. The first time when Jordan traveled through Thailand he was in awe of this paradise and its welcoming people, but somehow in that brief glimpse it never occurred to him to look beyond the smiles.

But when he came back wanting to film this unfamiliar world, he met Pla - a 19-year-old who worked in one of Bangkok's countless bars. Pla was willing to reach out and share her world with him and in the process changed him and touched his life in a way he never expected. This is that story.

Sex tourism prostitutes in Bangkok normally work in any of the pimp bars, but on the streets it's mostly underage girls and HIV positive women still applying their trade. As a westerner on the streets of Bangkok you get constant hustle. Not just hookers, shopkeepers and taxes, but everything.

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Cass
Cass
4 years ago

Farang does not mean "Stranger ' or "Wsterner". Thailand was never colonized. The first foreigners the Siamese saw were from the French colonies of Vietnam,Laos and Cambodia. The word 'farang" actually means "French". The word for France isฝรั่งเศส
F̄arạ̀ngṣ̄es̄. Thats all it means.

Jimmy_Farang
Jimmy_Farang
6 years ago

umm, this guy is a special kind of sexual predator. he has all this compassion for this sex worker and acts all concerned, but i know his type.. he is banging her all night long for pennies a day, putting a cam in her face and calling a dramatic expose on the sex industry. pffft.

Marty
Marty
6 years ago

Thanks for making this doco. It turned from watching while multitasking to something very powerful. I cant believe some of the comments made about this movie, I didnt know retarded people watch documentaries ha ha

simon
simon
6 years ago

script editor credits... story consultant credits? and if there was additional camerawork by some other bloke did that thai cop confiscate that camera equipment as well?? this is no documentary.

simon
simon
6 years ago

if this was a doc why is there story credits at the end?

ThisIsTheList
ThisIsTheList
7 years ago

The complaints about this documentary run the entire gamut from being annoyed that it's too focused on one person to being annoyed that it's too focused on broad generalities to everything in between. People seem to be upset that the story is upsetting. Really? If you can do better, please, PLEASE do.

Jeralynn
Jeralynn
8 years ago

So many criticizers and haters of this documentary and they have a right to, but what are these people doing to open people's eyes to this issue? At least this filmmaker is sharing his perspective and shedding light on this prevalent issue and not sitting back trolling...-A Thai Lady

Jeralynn
Jeralynn
8 years ago

How about a comment from a Thai woman? ?? Albeit, I was born and raised in California. Rather than painting a broad paint brush and labeling with bold certainty that all sex workers who sell their bodies do so willingly out of their own free choice or, the opposite extreme, that each was coerced, frauded, forced, etc. why don't we realize that each person is an individual with their own motivating factors, whether or not their reasons are justifiable. It's something most of us middle to upper class people can't comprehend.

I'm making that assumption because you're reading this on an iPhone or desk/laptop that you most likely bought and paid for. My father is an architect and I was raised middle (maybe upper middle in some viewpoints) class and my female cousins are all professional people (who are Thai inside and out - not Americanized like me - who live there) from medical, nursing and design backgrounds. It boils down to opportunities (are they or their family able to afford a decent education for these girls? If so, they probably won't sell their body in the majority of cases).

Are the girls from a poor and/or dysfunctional family? Then they are more than likely to sell their bodies to survive and/or provide for their families or are unwilling victims. I was shocked (I shouldn't have been) when my friend said that we could stay with her sister who was 35 and her "farung" husband was 80 years old (they'd been together for 10 years). They both told me several times how happy she was and how he treats her well. I met them both and I believe it. She worked for him by keeping the house maintained and helped with his health issues and was his companion. My western mindset seemed to judge them both in the back of my mind.

In the end, I couldn't. What I did judge, however, was my Thai friend's farung ex-husband who was abusive to her and is like that teacher in the documentary except even worse: he is unstable, abusive, retired, and just spends his money on prostitues 1/3 of his age. 2 different scenarios but both originated from supply-demand. Are there people from lower class families that have decent jobs (non-sex-working)? Absolutely. Are there people from middle to upper classes that sell their bodies (for whatever reasons: extra cash from a farang or it happens anywhere, maybe they were sexually abused at home so this is normal to them, or maybe there is force, fraud or coercion by a trafficker).

If you're going to paint people, do it individually because everyone is an individual. I pray for these precious, lovely Thai women and all women around the world who are oppressed and/or think sex working is their only questionable means to an end. I thought it was a good documentary. Not all encompassing, but very eye-opening. I do agree with what Coast 2 Coast said. Just because there's supply and demand and some girls (Pla?) do it willingly it doesn't justify the insidious skin trade.

Coast2Coast
Coast2Coast
8 years ago

In regards to the people above commenting against the Doc,

The sex trade has always and will always exist everywhere. That being said, very few women (given the option) would be involved if it were possible to make a better living doing something else. Sure, some women enjoy the work however it can be very dangerous and yes, the fact that millions of westerners travel to Thailand every year with intentions of getting anything they want with their vast amounts of money is very textbook exploitation. They/we are taking advantage of the lack of regulations because they/we are greedy capitalists. Thailand is one of the largest contributors to the human trafficking market. People think the same things about the red light district in Amsterdam because the women there all seem happy and willing but the fact of the matter is that many of those women have been forced drugs and/or sold into the trade and have no other options because they will be killed. In Thailand a man can pay to have sex with a minor. Are you trying to tell me that its perfectly alright for a wealthy old gluttonous man to pay to have sex with a child? At what point do you draw the line and say that we are partially to blame for wanting to do these things. Just because they are offering does not make it right to take it. Hell, you could probably pay money to kill someone there if you met the price, would that be alright as well?

Afghiweed
Afghiweed
8 years ago

man this guy filming is so gullable. falls in love with this girl immediatly, and stupidly believes she has worked in a bar for 6 years but is totally innocent. she will play him for money like they do with any idiot as gullable as him. his stupidity is annoying

mark
mark
8 years ago

Man, that's the most heartbreaking thing I've seen in a long time.

Laughterror
Laughterror
8 years ago

after 2nd view of this film(and without reading other comments) i believe the more important information is being overlooked. I'm not sure of this filmakers intentions, fiction or non-fiction, but a work of art has been created that exposes the inner bullworks of life. I know a person who visits bankok 3 to 4 time a year. I must endure many photos and stories(he is my boss). There was even a point when he imagined sometype of relationship was formed between a thai girl and himself. Finding this film I thought it would be a great way to wake him up from this fantasy by showing it to him. I didn't have the heart to attack him with my true feelings(myself living in a fantasy that i could wake up others to their negative actions without gaining an nme)that everytime he had sex with these girls, he was hurting them mentally. He started to watch, laughing and pointing. Exclamations of memories or here and there, this and that, the possibility of recognized faces. As soon as this nostalgia settled and he focused as the dialoge scratched beneath the surface of novelty he lost intrest and excused himself from the room. My conclusion......we all live in a dream. Sometimes the dream we live in is our own, sometimes its someone elses. Be very carefull if you enter anothers dream. You will be exploited, reclassified, regulated and disposed of when neccessary. The art i see in this film come from the narration. He is honest about everything but he is not honest with her. He did not want her to see him as a 'farang' and yet he was nothing but that to her. an exploiter in a plastic bubble. and she only reveled enuff about herse lf to remain in her bubble. the no-journey-involved of this travel film. the expected end ending reflects life as it is. a world-wide fight to the death with oneself to prevent the wake-up call and face reality. My curiosity is focused on the mothers of these children(?) are they the only ones to discourage this(?) and to the filmaker, with the greatest lesson learned given to yourself(possibly) and success of this reel......go back to bangkok....not to exploit but to take direct action(not to direct a film or make an action film) direct action as in DIRECT ACTION. A healthy, positive, direct action to help someone distressed.
All power to all the People !! The Power of the People is stronger then the people in power !!

Phred
Phred
9 years ago

I went to Bankok with two other guys. The pretty bar maid did not enguge us in conversation. Two of us were trashed, the third was our appointed simi-sober person.

Some resonibly attractive "prostitute"(not the bar maid) came up and started talking to us (broken English). She said she could call two friends. My collegue spoke more Thai than I did, and was somewhat sober. He told her "You are very pretty, but we are sorry. We are all married. We only came here to drink, and eat.". She left. An hour, or two later, as we were leaving, the same woman met us again and asked if we needed a guide to help find gifts for our spouces.

Nobody else approached us over the two days we spent there.

i enjoyed the video, even though I felt so sad for pla! :)

spleege
spleege
9 years ago

when i observed the year this was made. It made more sense. It is more applicable to about 1995. this is still a very naive "documentary" and really should be removed due to its outdated and amateur questions.

spleege
spleege
9 years ago

Hilarious. why do people still assume Thailand is the benchmark for south east Asia. I mean you have to give credit where credit is due. Thailand spends big dollars on tourism. good for them. but let not the educated south east Asian traveler confuse Thailand with other SE Asian experiences. Every Thai "experienced" ex-pat is a dips*it. Clueless. Thailand is the LAST place you want to go to really experience all that SE Asia has to offer. I love it though because you see the same limp crap over and over. frequently regurgitated by moronic brits and really s*upid Americans. Sympathetic, heartfelt stories of abuse on both ends i.e. the foreigner that got his "heart broken" or the Thai girl that got her "heart broken." Is it all just marketing or are these stories really just examples of what a joke the white dudes are? From the nincompoops I have met. the later is the case.

Unknown Traveller
Unknown Traveller
9 years ago

I kept expecting Jordan to say "I arranged for Pla to go to school at...." Or "I got her a job training with..." He obviously cared about her. I found it strange that he could look that deeply into her life for his film and then jump on a plane. There seemed to be some things left out.

lpen7
lpen7
9 years ago

Please, don't try to read more into this than is intended. As it's titled, it's a view into a small part of what life in Thailand might be. Pla is a lovely girl. Yes, she's "earning" her "bar fee" but, she's also trying to share HER experience of Thai life & Jordan's filming it. Period. Many of the comments seem awfully angry and misguided. The drunk dude pawing the girls and saying the most ignorant things is the villain, not the doc maker. I will say a prayer for Pla. Her death is a different story that should be investigated and told.

cyberfrank
cyberfrank
10 years ago

well, now Pla will remain with me as well, she was so gentle and touching, I would do well if I d only find a girl like her, it s sad story, but, it helped to see things in her shoes.

Terry Beaton
Terry Beaton
10 years ago

I saw this doc. on television some years ago. I too was uncomfortable with his (what seemed to me) subtle exploitation of Pla. It was such a self conscious, preconceived piece of filming that I found myself cringing in places. I never knew quite what to make of Pla, as they both seemed to be attempting to get something from the other. He wanted a sad story, and she wanted to get something for hers.

rljp
rljp
10 years ago

I think you came to Thailand to do a documentary with a modicum of intelligence on the culture and the business. Look, I would guess 90% of the women or girls there would just love to meet a nice man who will take care of them and provide a nice life for them. Be it a Thai or farang. So that is why they go to the bars. Also you paid the bar fine. Is that prostitution? You meet a lady in a bar and you come to an agreement whereby you go out and have dinner and decide if you want to go further or not. Also the girlie bars were there before the vietnam war. The bars are a part of the culture for Male Thais. As you say what chance does she have of a future so she has choices which lead her to where she is. She most likely has family to support. She is trying to attract you because you are a nice man and would be a good candidate to take care of her forever. You do not know what poverty makes people do. You have no comprehension of that desparation. You do not know the right questions to ask to even gain a modicum of understanding. You played on the desparation of a young girl as she uses sublte desparation in hope that you will be attracted to her and take care of her and her family like she has seen many a good farang do for other Thai women. Not all the farangs are bar hoping short time guys.

ZZ
ZZ
10 years ago

i think it is equally important if not more to show the non-obvious the hidden and the underground world..this documentary ended with Pla being dead..her death was used for the interest of the documentary well it shouldnt stop there... light should be shed on the "unxpected dearth of the thai girls instead of using it to make a dramatic end the help the documentary...why was she dead?and how?

Samir
Samir
10 years ago

The mafia in thailand is very rich and makes millions out of the tourists. The poor thai girls come from agricultural areas like Isan, where they grow up in rice farming villages. The girls leave the rice farms as there is little money in that compared to big tourist areas. The western tourists bring a lot of cash, and are charged tourists high prices which to western standards are still cheap. The mafia controlls the brothels to massage parlours to the whole tourist routes in many key areas including the full moon party island. The mafia deliberately create extra hidden costs for tourists if tourists are travelling across thailand. The Govt could step in aggressively and address poverty such that the young girls have a future other than sex with customers at a bar.

Kyle
Kyle
10 years ago

Beautiful story of a woman who nobody took the time to listen to...until Jordan, of course. The images of those men holding hands with their Thai "girlfriends" disturbed me. I wonder if their wives knew where they were and how they were taking advantage of these women?

Raylz
Raylz
10 years ago

I thought this was great. A documentary doesn't have a story line its real life and i feel you captured a real view of who Pla was. In fact if it wasn't for you then what she said when she says no one cares about her would true. She would just be another girl dead, you are lucky to have captured her before she past.

Roiyar
Roiyar
10 years ago

It's interesting to see many of the callous remarks left by many on this commentary. The fact is. Poverty breeds exploitation and the people who exploit see justification in it. if a world were to be where exploitation and human rights are upheld. No person would subject themselves to being morally depraved by another. Yes we all know it is money driven. Yes we all know this has been going on all over the world since the beginning of time...still does not make it right. Only those who understand it will get it, certain reasoning will be lost on those ears that have a narrow understanding of the human condition.

I don't have the answers but I do know it starts with corruption at the top level of government and the abuse of power in the economy. which trickles down to the workers and the rest of society.

This was well done and very sad to watch. The obnoxious Bar patron Farang who the girls had to tolerate, clearly deserved a swift punch in the face. I just wanted him to shut up and go away he was disgusting.

Silsal
Silsal
10 years ago

Okay so I'm a girl too... not too many others seem to have chosen to comment on this doc. I agree that it's a small section of Thailand as a whole country but it is still a section. And Pla was a human being who had altogether too short a life.
Guys why are you so defensive? Is it the idea that these women are all sex slaves? Has that ruined your idea of a good time? It's like Pla said "Everyone has a story" the one night stand you had with the girl you later described as a "slag" do you think she doesn't have a reason for being like that?
In Pla's circumstances I can't say I wouldn't do the same. Hell in the UK it's crossed my mind but I don't think that trying to put down Thailand is the point of this documentary.
I think it's more a way for the maker to express his love for Pla. She probably haunts him to this day. The only way he felt he could pay tribute was to make a documentary about her. Her life, her world and her spirit.
Yes it's a bit weird but not all people express love in the same way especially when that person abruptly passes.
Chill out a bit, if you want a doc on Thailand, watch a doc about Thailand. This is clearly named Bankok Girl and then goes on to explain it's about Pla.
I for one am grateful to know she existed.

calbs
calbs
10 years ago

Yes, "Dirt Dumb" is a good description for those who fell for this pathetic attempt of a documentary.

Melinda Li
Melinda Li
10 years ago

From the comments here, I cannot believe I watched the same film as the others. The comments appear to be male-dominated but correct me if I am wrong. Ladies, please speak to me. This guy is one independent doc maker, not some big budget filmmaker. Why do people feel threatened and offended by this?

To my knowledge, he did nothing but film this one individual's life, balancing his compassion with a certain amount of objectivism necessary to make a good doc. I found it sad, touching, tragic, and at times, revolting. I wanted so badly to protect this girl and, just like the filmmaker, in the end, I could not.

I don't understand why such a film could evoke such snotty, aggrieved, holier-than-thou comments which seem to imply that these woman choose to live this way and any of us who don't believe it are dirt dumb. I'm just not convinced that is the case.

calbs
calbs
10 years ago

Hey Jordan,
Get your facts right.
Farang does not mean stranger or western tourist.
The typical day's pay in the north is not $2 per day (the minimum basic wage is far more than that).
The streets are not mostly underage girls & HIV positive women plying their trade.
etc etc....
Next time you visit Thailand go somewhere beyond the red light district, where it seems is the only place you spent your time.
You have no understanding or knowledge of Thailand, nor it's people. You discredit this country.

calbs
calbs
10 years ago

Joe, your a real sucker if you fell for this crap doco. I tell you what, i'll sell you the Sydney Opera House CHEAP.
There is no substance, no research, no proof & it's full of fraud.

joe
joe
10 years ago

a good film. has a perspective maybe a few people miss in the comments. this is about the situation thru the eyes on one woman in the business. jordan wasnt supporting it one way or the other. he was following this one person. and maybe you all missed the last comment he made -- that a week after he returned home Pla had been found dead. that is the sad thing here. a young woman of 19 had been found dead and no one seemed to care. even at the beginning she said that everyone has a story including her -but no one cares about hers.

maybe you missed the point.

Lincoln Chase
Lincoln Chase
10 years ago

'The world breaks everyone. And many become strong in the broken places. But those that it can not break, it kills. It kills the very good , and the very gentle, and the very brave, impartially.' Ernest Hemingway

Peace Bewithu
Peace Bewithu
10 years ago

A lot of Thailand experts in here

issue23
issue23
10 years ago

One more thing, don't allow yourself to fall into the trap of believing that a high percentage of women go into that trade because it's the only way of making money. Thailand isn't third world. It has a burgeoning, strong economy, with a massive manufacturing base and a thirst for 'first world' trappings. It's just that the money won't be as good in, say a factory, nor will it be as much fun.

My experience of Bangkok, having spent quite a lot of time there, is that most of the women there aren't in some sort of hellish servitude. Most of them are empowered and in control of their life and destiny.

This documentary maker makes it look like some sort of carnal slavery. Which for the vast majority it isn't.

issue23
issue23
10 years ago

Jordan is just a creepy man with a camera and too many questions.

I'm sure Pla (and most other young Thai women in her position) would rather turn a trick than have to put up with his sanctimonious, melancholic, intrusive questioning, being whispered from behind a camera lens.

What's more, it's a rudderless documentary that doesn't really know what it's trying to communicate. He's obviously written, filmed, edited it all himself, without the input of anyone else. It shows. It says more about him than what (what??) he was documenting. Don't bother wasting 40 minutes of your life on it.

johnconnolly25
johnconnolly25
10 years ago

The filmmaker is either naive, an imbecile, or a bad conman.

220VOLTS
220VOLTS
10 years ago

Case in point; Honolulu Hawaii. I lived in Hawaii for years and I can tell you folks, Honolulu has a vibrant and active night life. Given the proportionality of populations, I could match it with certain Asian cities hands down. The difference? The price - easy.

Peter Brown
Peter Brown
10 years ago

Hope that A**hole sees himself on this Docco!

May the Blessings Be Pla. I think Pla was a angel trapped in a human condition!

hammad
hammad
10 years ago

prostitutes must be ilegal

Guest
Guest
10 years ago

I tried to comment on this the other day. For some reason it doesn't seem to be showing up,perhaps i accidentally deleted it, anyway. While this doc is not perfect, i feel the maker of the film, while his intention seemed good, he seemed very detached from it and very monotone through out for such an emotional film.I am from America and a photographer and have traveled in Europe and Asia.Not Thailand but the Philippines and its similar there. I never got involved with the hookers for one for fear of illness,and i had a girlfriend at the time.But i saw all this, the sadness,the lack of hope etc and it is heartbreaking. While some of them don't mind it,may do it anyway,it seems a large percent seem to have no other real choice.

I'm sure this happens all too often all over the world but the way this film ended brought tears to my eyes. I saw this girl and wished i could help her. Even though she may have been more into the game than she let on,i truly believe it was not what she wanted and was a good person. I agree with the other comments that talk about the sex tourist. They were disgusting. That a--hole at the end made me want to vomit. They way Asian women are perceived and treated is really appalling.Yes some work in the sex trade,others do not,but they are all human beings and deserve to be treated like it. As an artist my art deals with the sad sides of life as i believe that is where powerful reality is found and there was such a beautiful sadness about her. Only wanting the things everyone wants. A normal life, home, clothing, to take care of her mother and she herself feeling so insignificant as we all really are. She mentioned Buddhism. I too am a Buddhist. I can only pray that she finds the happiness in her next life that she could not find in this all to short and tragic one.

There may be more to the story than we know, im sure there is.Both good and bad in her favor im sure. But the point is she was still a human being and seemed a genuinely sweet person and deserved better than what she got.I found the ending very haunting and sad, I grew up Catholic before becoming a Buddhist so ill say for all my Christian, Jewish and Islamic friends, God Bless Her.

xyz yer
xyz yer
10 years ago

Thai's and not the farang invented the massively big massage sex industry for Thai's - check out Chewit the master of the Bangkok sex business - hes now a politician.

In the early days of AIDS a farang couldnt even go to the multi billion baht luxury girl in a fish bowl establishments - they were exclusive for Thai's.

So the story is flawed as prostitution although illegal in Thailand has been going on for 1000's of years.

If you go to the North of Thailand in the Issarn areas then it is a full on business where girls make it their mission to hook a farang to sponsor the whole family. Websites, internet cafe's, translators are all provided for a fee to get a farang with money.

These doco/films are pure nonsense - i know that Thai men are more trafficked into being labourers or fishermen than young girls.

Enzu
Enzu
10 years ago

I´m sure that I have pi s s ed alot of people of with my recent responds in this disqus section regarding this "documentary". My intent was not to make people angry and pi ss ed of though...

What I want is for people to undertstand that this "documentary" is a fake/fraud. Even the site IMDB have changed it from "documentary" to "drama".

I understand that people get fooled by this film and this girl Pla, but please believe me when I say it´s a fake. If you don´t believe me, please atleast do your own "investigation" about it...

This "documentary" needs to be taken off TDF as it destroys TDF:s otherwise impeccably history in my opinion...

sly875
sly875
10 years ago

(Jordon) just got played!! He didn't even pay her for filming, oh yeah he paid the bar fine lol no wounder her friends told him she died lol

Axel Vanderoost
Axel Vanderoost
10 years ago

Dude you really sound like a Farang...
Your vision, observations, analyzes and understanding are the ones of a Farang.
Not sure how long or how often you've been to Thailand but for sure you don't seem to know much about it and got fooled.
This girl was playing you as she was obviously looking for something very real and tangible... Money or the Farang Husband and the life that comes with it.
As she said "...Nobody ever cared about her..." (except for what her body had to offer that is...)...
Your voice is the one of an idealist out of Lalaland. That's why she was with you... cos you appeared childish enough to be a good potential for marriage. But at the end you acted selfishly just like every other Farang, and despite saying how much you loved her, yo obviously never offered her what she was looking for... Her Freedom and True Happiness....
All Thai girls are liars and actress... they are ALL after the Farang for the Money or e Wedding... unless they are from rich family in which case they most probably despise the Farang that you are.
To the contrary of the appearence, Thais are very racist and hate the Occidentals. We are all their customers. That's it.

oQ
oQ
10 years ago

There is a "lottery" going on in Thailand, and the cost of that ticket is to prostitute yourself, the prize of the lottery is that you get to marry or give a child to a farang who can't (or at times doesn't want to) get laid in his own country anymore. If you're lucky you get to move to that farang's country where you'll be able to send money to your entire family back in Thailand.
I know quite a few who have married women from Thailand, Cuba, Brazil, Africa....and the story is always the same.
I don't blame the women, perhaps in their situation I would have done the same.

ZTC_G
ZTC_G
10 years ago

On my way back from Shanghai two weeks ago, many people recommended Thailand for a visit as it was my first trip to Asia. Instead, I went to Japan, and I'm glad I did. Coz in Thailand,I would end up in prison for being a serial killer of these Farangs. How pathetic, self loathing low life does someone have to be to take advantage of the misfortunes of these people.

Nikita Kade
Nikita Kade
10 years ago

The first words that came to mind when I'd finished watching this film were "cognitive dissonance": whenever Pla appeared to be on the verge of a genuine emotion, the Smile appeared--wide, lovely, but completely at odds with what she was saying, or had been saying a second before. Sadness, confusion, uncertainty--these could rarely be read in her expression, even when the words she spoke made one expect to see them there. In fact, there was something "off", unreal, about her entire persona, as if it was a mask invented for the onlooker--all coy gestures, subtle manipulation, flitting eyes, too-loud laughter, too-wide smiles, in place of genuine feeling. And it wasn't just Pla; the same disconnect seemed to apply to all the women who appeared on camera. I wonder if the "bar girls"--if perhaps most of the women in this sexist bastion called Thailand--aren't taught to slip into this persona very early on (at the age, say, of the two toddlers opening the film), adopting it as a way to survive bitter, ugly lives filled with Western males who use and dispose of them as easily as condoms.

Jordan never seemed to come close to the heart of his subject, but I didn't feel that was the fault of the film. If he'd been able to follow Pla for a year, he might have been able to get behind her mask.

But maybe not. There is a point at which a mask stops merely covering, and instead insidiously replaces what used to be behind it. It can no longer be taken off, and the feelings hidden from the viewer become just as inaccessible to the wearer. In Pla's case, we will never know what was there be revealed or rediscovered. I wonder if the filmmaker would be interested in returning to Bangkok again, this time to follow the life of an older woman. For what happens to these thousands and thousands of Thai girls like Pla when they are no longer girls, and when they do not die young?

nicole
nicole
10 years ago

Thank you so much for this documentary. I beleive this girl with the most beautiful smile was sincere. Enzu laughing is not always a sign of being under influence . It can be also a sign of being shy. And a lot of songs written under influence are still beautiful songs. The people under influence are under influence but not fool or crazy. Did you read in her eyes that she wanted us to discover who she was really and that the language was a stop for her to say things that she wanted to say? . This documentary touch me so much. I just would like that that the end is not true.

Enzu
Enzu
10 years ago

That English teacher guy in the video made me sick... Unfortunately a much too common sight in Thailand...

It´s guys like this that give all farangs in Thailand a bad reputation.

I must say though that almost none of the girls that are working in the bars (haven´t heard of anyone, but that´s not to say they don´t exist) are forced to do so. The unemployment rate in Thailand for the past decade have been around 2%. Not many countries can boast with that.

No, for the ones who decides to do this kind of work it´s usually all about the money.

In recent years the salaries have gone up quite significantly in Bangkok (still very low compared to western standards). And as a result the girls who ´want´ to work in the bars/sex industry have declined.

I´m not defending the sex industry in any way, quite the opposite. Just trying to clearify how it works a little bit.

I´m definitly no expert on Thailand, but I have to say that this doc didn´t impress me. The guy that made it were in Thailand on holiday once, and then came back to shoot this documentary (his words). It shows in the doc how little he knows and understands Thailand. Props for him still for making it, but it just doesn´t give the topic justice, sorry...

Bob Trees
Bob Trees
10 years ago

Man it was easier understanding Pla than that English chick magnet!

You could see that she was playing up everything with the overt smiling and laughing. I really thought she looked sexy when she was talking about her incident with her right hand. No, not that talking about someone's misfortune is sexy. It was that she was no longer putting up a front.

Really sad to see the ending of this. I wonder if this is somewhat typical of the region?

RIP beautiful one.