Supot Yongjaiyut knows he is not living his best life. The year is 1996 and Supot lives in Bangkok. During the day, he works for the Royal Thai Mail Service, a job he loathes and for which he knows he has no aptitude. When he’s not at work, he spends his evenings watching movies with his best friend Ali. Ali owns a video store and shares a love of movies, all movies, with Supot. Another thing both men share is the belief that they are waiting for “something big” to happen to them. And that when that something big happens, they will both begin to live their lives the way they were meant to live them.
One evening, while watching and arguing about The Big Sleep, Supot and Ali are interrupted by Woot, the local derelict, who brings in a box of videotapes and attempts to sell them to Ali. Woot eventually departs the shop, leaving behind his box of tapes. There is nothing remarkable about any of the contents of the box, with one exception: an enigmatic tape labeled Bangkok 2010. Neither man has ever heard of this film. Supot decides to watch it and after finishing, brings it to Ali to watch. They agree that this may be the best Thai film ever made. Where did it come from? Why have they never heard of it? Could Bangkok 2010 be the “something big” that both men have been awaiting?
In The Motion Picture Teller, Colin Cotterill tells a tale of dreams. Dreams that are not only inspired by movies, but also, sometimes, fulfilled by them as well. His characters are nicely drawn and recognizable (Who hasn’t worked a job they hated while hoping for something better to happen?). Cotterill’s dialogue, especially between Supot and Ali, sparkles. This is especially true as they banter about the movies or wax poetically about Bangkok 2010, and the novel is filled with film references and trivia.
The novel is centered on the mystery of Bangkok 2010 as Supot and Ali’s attempt to uncover when and where the film was made and how there seems to be no record or knowledge of it. By setting the book in 1996, Cotterill limits the access to the sometimes staggering amounts of film minutia that is currently only a click or tap away, forcing the characters to pursue other, more time consuming methods to explore the film’s origins. Cotterill also illustrates how, if you’re waiting for something big to happen, it can begin with something small. If you’re willing to follow the path presented, as Supot does as he begins on his progressively obsessive search to unravel the mystery of the film, the results may be life altering.
The Motion Picture Teller is a charming novel about hopes, dreams, and having the courage to find the place you’re truly meant to be.
Read an interview with the author here.