Much in life is timing. October Sonata – (Rak Tee Ror Koy) Love That Waits – did not resonate well in the box office in 2009 – it flopped actually, which is truly unfortunate because it possesses such a gripping script, cinematography and actors. But I believe though, that most of what makes a good movie is that we are watching it at the right moment for us. For whatever reason it did not bode well with the Thai public at the time, but for me, it hits me in all the right places. At the end of the film, I actually went to Mr. A and gave him a big hug. It makes you appreciate that nothing is better than the present, with your beloved, standing next to you.
The idea that our leading lady, Sanchan (moon) is the lunar and our leading man, Rawee (sun) is the solar, makes for a compelling theme from the initial start, that they exist in polar opposites and overlaps only during eclipses. But it only took one encounter from the sun, one single meeting with Rawee that changes Sanchan’s life completely.
I went into this movie without any expectations or inclinations of the storyline. I wanted to see it primarily for Pope Thanawat and his debut on the silver screen (a debut on any entertainment format for that matter.) But I am pleasantly surprised at how compelling and emotionally triggering it was. Perhaps I am watching this at the right moment in my life, in which I am a realist as much as I am a romantic. I can appreciate and understand that people who come in our lives may not be with us forever, but that some change us forever.
Sanchan (Koy Ratchawin) is a poor, factory worker. She’s uneducated- to the point of being completely illiterate. She meets Rawee (Pope Thanawat) who is a scholar and about to embark to America to continue his education. He is not aware that she doesn’t know how to read. They meet one fateful day, October 8th to be exact; they are connected through a fondness for a deceased actor; they bond through a night together at the beach bungalow where he reads her a novel translated as “The War of Life” (Chiwit Songkram) about a girl named Pleurng and her tragic romance. Sanchan wants to be like Pleurng- a protagonist in the novel who promises to love her man for as long as she shall live- but Rawee makes a comment for her to finish the novel first before deciding her fate. He gives her the book and tells her to get back to him later. They pinky swear to meet a year later, on October 8th at the same bungalow.
Sanchan carves the symbol of a sun to the headboard of the bed to memorialize their promise together. But when she wakes the next morning, she finds him gone, only a letter remains in his wake- which inscribes that he will come back for her after he drops off his belongings at a friend’s. Unfortunately she cannot read.. and assumes he has left her without saying goodbye. But she holds that promise dear to her heart and anticipates their meeting in a year’s time.
From that moment on, Sanchan has been affected and changed. She enrolls in an evening writing class and is determined to finish The War of Life book. Slowly, as she learns to read the contents of the book, her own life transforms into a mini version of it, she even names herself “Plerng.” She meets an admirer named Lim (Boy Pitsanu) at school who pursues her and brings her out of the factory life by finding her apprenticeship as a seamstress.
That fine day arrives a year later as she dons a dress that she hand sewed, and made her way to the beach bungalow. Much to her disappointment, Rawee doesn’t show up and she is left to continue on her life as she awaits the next October 8th. Sanchan returns every year to the bungalow until Lim gives her a reality check and offers her marriage and stability. They open a tailored shop together, but every year on October 8th, the sonata lures her, the promise beckons her back to their spot.
When Rawee does show up- much to Sanchan’s surprise – all of the waiting and the fury reach her and she launches herself at him. Rawee explains that he couldn’t make it the year prior because he was arrested for his liberal involvement- he was accused of being a communist. A reunion all too late because she is married now – she asks not to speak about their personal issues and to enjoy their moment together- however innocent it may be. Their love grows further each October for the next couple of years and he inspires her to write her own story. She tells him that the following year, she will have something for him to read. A close betrayal to her husband almost occurs but Sanchan hails herself out of Rawee’s arms before damage is done.
Political turmoil heightens, as Sanchan returns to the bungalow that October 8th to find her husband Lim there instead of Rawee, who had gone missing again. Out of jealousy and anger, Lim commits the unthinkable with her (R-scene!) in which I don’t like Lim one little bit! This propels Sanchan to leave their marriage and pursue her writing aspirations.
Rawee emerges from the forest after hiding due to communist accusations. He searches for Sanchan and discovers that she had left her husband. Like the sun and the moon, these two never seem to intersect. Rawee waits for her at the bungalow as years pass by- Sanchan keeps seeing her ex-husband’s car parked there so she evades it. Not knowing that Lim had purchased the land and bungalow from the original owner.
Rawee notices written papers that were strewn all over the bungalow. He pieces them together- it was a manuscript that Sanchan had written. The love that was not meant to be. Rawee grows sicker and sicker. He carves a moon next to the sun on the bed frame. And as the next October 8th rolls around and Sanchan is now a writer by her own right- we learn that someone had sent a manuscript (a replica’s of Sanchan) to her boss. She immediately rushes to the bungalow, hoping to find Rawee, but sees Lim instead who shares heartbreaking news about the man, the love that waits, but can never be realized. She sobs wretched tears at her loss as she outlines the carvings of the sun and moon with her finger. At long last, at least the sun and moon can be together on something physical, something real and concrete.
At that point, I completely lost it, darn waterworks. It’s such a poignant love story about two people who are as elusive as the sun and moon, who tries to meet the same time each year, who holds on to the promise and to the hope that they will see each other, but together they will never be. Yet despite such a sad ending, through meeting Rawee, Sanchan is so much better because of him. She is able to love so deeply, and perhaps share her experiences with the next Plerng or Sanchan out there.
Pope Thanawat is so down to earth handsome in this movie. I am so surprised that he did not receive a phone call to do more movies or lakorns. It is understandable that he decided that it is time to meditate and start fresh again. This period of self-discovery allows him to make peace with his flailing acting career and start anew. For that reason, we see him even more compelling as Nat, Nai Singh, Dr. Wattana and currently, the perfect Khun Chai Pawornruj.
Hug your loved one tightly to you and don’t waste a minute over trivialities. You can snuggle and have dinner with your beloved but Sanchan has to wait every year, until October 8th to “perhaps” see her Rawee again. Oh, so heartbreaking, yet so touching all the same.
*You can watch this movie on Youtube’s October Sonata playlist.