Thana, a once-illustrious architect, drifts ever further into existential crisis, propelled by the impending demolition of his proudest work and his wife’s waning romantic interest. Unexpectedly running into his long-lost childhood “pet” elephant Popeye, performing in the streets of Bangkok, spurs Thana on a quest across Thailand to return his displaced friend to rural Loei, the small village where they grew up. As the unlikely travelers saunter at elephant speed, they encounter fellow lost souls, like a gas station vagabond yearning for his first love and a lonely karaoke singer aching for a friend, who encourage them as a series of unfortunate mishaps impede their journey.
POP AYE is a humane ode to the power of simple acts of kindness in a world of lost innocence and missed opportunities, punctuated by well-timed bursts of deadpan absurdity. Director Kirsten Tan, in her impressive feature debut, deftly weaves the poignance and humor of Popeye and Thana’s journey with a series of indelibly beautiful cinematic images of the film’s gigantic star in this lyrical road-trip dramedy.
POP AYE won the Best Screenplay Award at the Sundance Film Festival and the VPRO Big Screen Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.
— Sundance Film Festival