Rainbow boy… Rung tua thii paet khawng khwaam rak (aka Right By Me) follows three teens who attend an LGBT support group. Flamboyant Nat loves nerdy Tat who loves the closeted bisexual Ek. Thanyatorn Siwanukrow’s film transfers Alex Sanchez’s novel from Virginia to Bangkok. The setting works but the film is flavorless. The screenplay cuts interesting subplots to focus on the tropey central romance. An amateur cast fails to flesh out their archetypal roles. Still the film was reaching out to a young audience that had less options in 2005.
Let’s take a closer look in this spoiler filled recap.
Boy Meets Boy Meets Boy
Scene One: Rainbow Club
SPEAKER: Welcome to the LGBT support group. Today we’ll talk about coming out.
DIVA: I’m out and proud.
NERD: My parents don’t know.
JOCK: I’m in the wrong meeting. (Leaves.)
DIVA: So, your crush is bi. Maybe he’ll finally notice you.
NERD: Shut up.
Scene Two: School
(Jock saves Diva and Nerd from bullies.)
NERD: I took off my glasses and braces. Want to go to another Rainbow Club meeting?
JOCK: I have a girlfriend. But I could use a math tutor.
(Cue romantic homework montage.)
JOCK: I think I like guys.
GIRLFRIEND: You bastard.
Scene Three: Nerd’s Home
DIVA: “Have you licked his lollipop?”
NERD: I’m still a virgin.
DIVA: Then we should hook up.
NERD: That would be like kissing my sister.
(Diva exits in tears.)
NERD’s MOM: Son, why is there gay porn in your room?
NERD: Why are you looking at my porn?
Scene Four: Jock’s Home
(Jock comes home from a date with Nerd.)
JOCK’s DAD: My son is a pansy! (Tries to hit him.)
JOCK: Yes, I am. (Shoves his father to the ground. Later…)
NERD: My mother took it well. Are you all right?
JOCK: My dad left for good. Stay with me tonight. (They have PG-13 sex.)
Scene Five: Rainbow Club
NERD: I took advantage when you were vulnerable.
JOCK: Relax. It was consensual. (They hold hands.)
DIVA: Great. I’m stuck playing third wheel.
RANDOM GUY: Let’s do the romcom thing where a potential love interest appears during the credits.
DIVA: I’ll take it.
I think the story of Rainbow Boys grew out of my own internal struggle between wanting to accept myself and being afraid to. I recall Faulkner talked about writing in terms of the heart in conflict with itself.Alex Sanchez
Agency’s a tricky thing in LGBT films. Often the antagonists (bullies, mean parents) exercise it while the protagonist waits for things to get better. Here each boy pursues their crush with different levels of directness. The scene where Ek, the Jock, shoves his drunken father was a surprise. It helps that the actor was a head taller than the dad.
Sanchez’s novels follow the boys through graduation and beyond. Critics have praised them. Conservatives have banned them from school libraries. The movie made a smaller impact. There are few reviews and the creative team did little film work since. But it was interesting to see how smoothly the story translated between cultures. And it’s rare to find a film focused on three queer teens rather than the usual two.
Netflix is currently hosting several m/m stories from Thailand including Love Sick, Sotus and Bangkok Love Stories: Innocence.