By Sneha Jaiswal (Twitter | Instagram)
A lot of times, trailers are misleading, for example ‘Moonlight Chicken’ looked like a spicy romance series with leads who had proved their chemistry in the hit show ‘A Tale of 1000 Stars’. But in a pleasant surprise, the eight episode long series turned out to be a ‘slice of life’ kind of story which relies on an ensemble cast to entertain and not just the primary couple.
Directed by Aof Noppharnach Chaiwimol, the story follows Jim (Earth Pirapat) who runs a diner chicken rice diner and takes care of his teen nephew Li Ming (Fourth Nattawat Jirochtikul). Busy with his business, Jim doesn’t have the time for love, but after a one-night stand with the charming Wen (Mix Sahaphap Wongratch), the possibility of something serious follows. There’s a parallel sub-plot about Jim’s nephew Li Ming falling in love with Heart, a deaf teenager who is practically kept under house arrest by his affluent parents.
I was hoping to see more of Earth and Mix in the show, however, sometimes they seemed more like supporting characters. And one wonders why the creators didn’t cast someone older for the role of Jim. There’s a scene where Wen mistakes Li Ming to be Jim’s son, and it was confusing; I thought to myself “hey, Earth doesn’t look that old!” But in the next few episodes we learn that Jim is 40+, but Earth just doesn’t exude the ‘wise old uncle’ energy, especially for a hard-working character who is struggling to keep his business afloat. If nothing else, the make-up department should’ve stepped a little and made him look a bit frazzled.
What ‘Moonlight Chicken’ does well is depict how complicated adult relationships can be. Wen has a difficult time ending things with his ex-boyfriend Alan (First Kanaphan Puitrakul) who struggles to accept their relationship is over. First Kanaphan Puitrakul was great in his slightly grey role as a banker, and I will have to mention how he was very believable as a high-school boy in ‘The Eclipse’, which literally ended just a few months ago, but he is also convincing as a working professional in his 20s in this series. Khaotung Thanawat Ratanakitpaisan plays the sensitive Kaipa, who helps his mother run a chicken stall in the market and is deeply infatuated with uncle Jim. Kaipa’s relationship with his mother is sweetly poignant, she is wholesomely supportive of her son’s sexuality and life choices.
Set in Pattaya, the cinematography is picturesque and captures different flavors of the tropical paradise with its many markets, malls, street-side stalls and beautiful blue beaches. True to its title, food plays a pretty significant role through the episodes, there’s plenty of chopping, cooking going on through the episodes and show makes you want to try out Jim’s famous chicken rice. The background music sometimes was too dramatic and flourishing against the scenes unfolding onscreen.
Gemini Norawit Titicharoenrak and Fourth Nattawat Jirochtikul were adorable as Heart and Li Ming, two teenagers who meet under tense circumstances but quickly become friends who enjoy each other’s company. I love how Li Ming learns sign language to communicate with Heart and views him like an equal, unlike Heart’s own parents. We see two sides of Li Ming, there’s the responsible charming young man when he is with heart, and then there’s the angst-y teen who doesn’t get along well with his uncle. His fraught relationship with both his uncle Jim and mother Jam (Lookwa Pijika Jittaputta) offers an interesting glimpse into how generation gap can shape family ties.
Overall, ‘Moonlight Chicken’ was a sweet series, but it felt too compressed and could’ve used sharper dialogues and perhaps a few more episodes to explore each sub-plot with more depth.
It’s a 7.5/10 from me.
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