Published Jul 18, 2016For all of the frustrations that come with them, there's still something incredibly enjoyable about the relaxed pace of Judd Apatow's slow-burning, improv-heavy features. Few filmmakers can create characters as likeable as Apatow, and if you're looking to relive those feelings (along with the welcome addition of some existential dread and subtle body horror), you simply need to go to Thailand. Though it'll likely be a long time before North American audiences can type his name without copying and pasting, there's still no denying that Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit is a director to watch.
At just 32, Thamrongrattanarit is already on his fifth feature film. That real-life ambition, drive and work ethic is all on display in Heart Attack. The film follows Yoon, a 30-year-old graphic designer who is obsessed with the freelance hustle. His tireless approach is paying off, as he's one of his country's most revered Photoshop masters, but it comes at a major cost. Trading sleep for a diet of Red Bull, coffee and shrimp dumplings from 7-11, Yoon's body begins to turn on him.
What begins as a few strange spots on his neck quickly develop into a major, full-body rash, so Yoon opts to visit a dermatologist. Enter Im, a beautiful young student doctor who is struggling with a life vs. work balance of her own. Her and Yoon have instant chemistry, and despite their obvious crushes on one another, Yoon is far too obsessed with Photoshop to make a proper move. Instead, he values their monthly skin check-ups.
As Yoon, famous Thai actor Sunny Suwanmethanon is a revelation, offering the same handsome yet oafish charm as Jason Segal or Channing Tatum. He's not alone, however, as the entire cast crackles with charisma. Actress and model Davika Hoorne is warm and lovable as the dermatologist. Taking an opposite (but no less captivating) approach, Violette Wautier offers plenty of cool, detached humour as Yoon's best friend and work buddy Je.
Ultimately, Heart Attack serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of putting work before well-being (hint: the movie is called Heart Attack). That said, like the best Apatow films, the real joys are less about the plot and more about the sparks between characters in each scene. Also like Apatow, the whole thing could benefit from a 30-minute trim.
That said, Heart Attack is still a movie that feels gone too soon when it does come to an end. If you've ever fallen in love with the freelance hustle, you'll find Yoon's journey all too relatable. Pairing its universal themes with a vivid Thai backdrop, fans of Apatow comedies will find this both familiar and foreign. This is one Heart Attack that's worth seeking out.