Film Review: Coalesce – Queer East Film Festival

Phnom Penh is the economic, industrial, and cultural centre of Cambodia attracting tourists from many counties and investors from China. Coalesce, written and directed by Jessé Miceli, examines this thriving society from the viewpoint of people at its margins – aspiring towards, but struggling to achieve, the prosperity they witness.

In Coalesce three young men of varying ages from different backgrounds and circumstances try to make their way in the world. The youngest, Songsa (Sek Songsa) is from a dirt-poor rural community. His age and introspective nature make him vulnerable to exploitation as he is compelled to sell clothes from a mobile tuk-tuk. Thy (Rom Rithy) is from a more suburban blue-collar background and regards himself as the least favoured of his father’s sons. His sexuality is ambivalent; sleeping with men and women but in the case of the former it is implied he is paid for the experience.

A desire to buy a motorcycle and enjoy the freedom it represents prompts him to work in a gay bar, dancing, or hustling patrons to buy drinks and exploiting his youthful body in other ways. The only character married with a family, Phearum (Eang Phearum ), spends most of his time in the bustling metropolis but, as a taxi driver with debts, does not have the time or money to enjoy its heady delights.

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