If you want to know where your heart is, look to know where your mind goes when it wonders- Love Quote
I thought Country Boy I was the BEST BL series by a ‘country mile’ (a purely American expression) in 2021. Although I was hopeful for this series, most sequels are genuinely not as impactful or as well done as the first. I was wrong. This is just as strong and to some degree, even stronger. While the first episode (there are only two) seemed a bit unfocused, it burgeons and blossoms in conjunction with the second episode.
It is the continuing story of Keptawan (Oak Runapnain). It gives him a chance to get out of the country and try his hand at living in a city on a temporary basis. Since the family resort is now doing well, he decides to spend some time in the big city to learn how to manage/operate a coffee shop so he can expand theirs. Given the fact his mother has a relative who owns a coffee shop, he goes to Bangkok to study and observe how it operates and functions. Because of Keptwawn’s own uniqueness and inimitable way, he is truly a ‘fish out of water’. From the beginning, his uncle is not happy with him and his level of unsophistication. He is cruel and verbally abusive to him, calling both him and his mother ‘hicks’ and uneducated and how much he dislikes being with uneducated people. When Keptawan makes mistakes, which he makes plenty of, he berates him by calling him brainless, stupid, and worthless. Keptawan is always contrite and promises to do better, but never waivers, at least externally, in being optimistic about life. He always projects hope and an internal sense of dignity. But you can recognize in his eyes that this is taking a toll on him inwardly.
He messages Nabdao, (Mon Wongsrisai) while letting know that he is in town visiting his uncle; learning how to manage a coffee shop and that he will be there for a month. I am guessing communication with each other has been limited, even though the intent was there. While both are excited to contact each other, Nabdao’s obvious priority is his education and studying. As such, he buries himself in his studies. However, there is not only sadness encircling him, but he is losing himself to his studies and being swallowed up by worry. It is as if time slips by him undetected. By accident, Ju (Ryuton Yananthon) comes to the coffee shop where Keptawan is working, and they reminisce about the good times the gang had at his mother’s resort. Ju comes back to tell Nabdao about his meeting and that Keptawan is leaving soon. Suddenly, Nabdao realizes time has escaped him and he must now prioritize what is more important. He begins to wonder.
At the beginning of the second episode, Nabdao catches Keptawan off guard when he visits him at the coffee shop. Unquestionably, this was one of the best surprise encounters I have ever seen on screen. It is pure Keptawan magic. If you have not seen Country Boy I, you might not appreciate this reference. Suffice to say, it is solely and uniquely his way of being grateful for Nabdao’s gesture of visiting him. He is like a child experiencing the first snowfall of the season. He cannot contain his excitement and in essence, his love. What brings beauty to this series is the way Keptawan never falters, waivers, or strays from who he is. He is grateful for the smallest things or appreciation shown towards him. He treats this encounter as if he has been given him a pot of gold. And for him, it is a pot of gold.
The next day, being Keptawan’s last full day there, is spent with each other. To say them being together is magical is a complete understatement. Looking at the world through Keptawin’s eyes is like seeing the sparkle and wonder of experiencing Christmas morning for the first time, if you permit me to use that simile. He sees only the excitement of new things, as if it is just for him. Every day is a wonderment for him and his ebullient nature is a joy to behold. He is not a child, but has retained the beauty of the child-like innocence and its nature of discovering the world for the first time. To reference perhaps an obscure analogy from “The Polar Express”, he has never stopped, nor will he ever stop, ‘hearing the bell’. It is astonishing to see. During their outing, Keptawan spots something that is of interest to him. Yet, he does not buy it for himself; instead, he buys something for his mother. That is who Keptawan is. He is giving, caring, and loyal and committed to his mother. He would never put himself above the wants, needs, or desires of others. He would unhesitatingly sacrifice all for the good of others. His benevolence is unparalleled.
However, he is astute enough to know that something is wrong with Nabdao. He explains that his studies are weighing him down, and he fears about his future. In Keptawan’s uniquely characteristic way, he advises Nabdao to do nothing. Confused, Nabdao asks what that means. Keptawan, being himself, says “..you should let yourself in the future handle it. Perhaps it is not going to be that bad. That is as far as a country boy like me can think. I am not highly educated. I can’t think of anything far away.” He says this as they sit and watch the sunset. In that instant, you can see in Nabdao’s eyes what this simple and basic message meant. It is an astonishing and breathtaking cinematic masterpiece of capturing human understanding between two people who love each other, yet they have not realized it fully. It was as if their souls had touched at that very instant. He further says, in his so sweet and totally intrinsic fashion, that if Nabdao feels tired, discouraged, or disappointed, “you can lay your head on me. It is for exchange” as he smiles and looks so deeply at Nabdao, as if he can see into his soul. And Nabdao does, just like Keptawan did to him last year. You can sense a change in them. Keptawan hesitantly puts his arm around Nabdao as he lays his head on his shoulder. They watch the sunset together. I cried. I felt its power. I was so moved and transfixed. It was cinematic magic.
The ending is an experience. It is transcending, and I simply do not want to give any of it away with mere words. Let me just say that their destinies are intertwined, their souls are almost fused together, and their love for one other is boundless. It is transfixing in its simplicity. I was overcome with solemnity. It is not just a thing of beauty to behold but also mystical in its encounter. It is transformative.
Oak Runapnain as Keptawan, simply stands out with his brilliance. Oak’s acting is a work of art and simply breathtaking to watch. His characterization so easily could have been one of buffoonery, but it never is. While he is child-like, innocent, and perhaps uneducated, he is never a Pollyanna. He comes across with sincerity, grace, warmth, charm, and acceptance. In addition, he exudes congeniality, affability, kindness, and graciousness. This is his bedrock. This is who he is. He is incapable of being anything else. Of course, he struggles internally and even when he is mocked or humiliated; he maintains a sense of dignity and is incapable of responding back in kind. Oak is an accomplished actor, and he is simply a joy to watch. He does not necessarily say much, but what he says with his face and smile cannot be put into words anyway. It never seems like he is playing a character but simply being himself. That is astonishing. When he was humiliated by his uncle, I was profoundly sad for him. When Napdao did not contact him or see him for nearly a month, I felt his pain as he carried that emptiness with stoic strength. While disappointed, he always managed to see things from a positive perspective. The beauty of his being is that he lives in the moment and loves every single aspect of that moment. He thinks, acts, feels, and is, in the moment and is grateful to experience it. He makes us feel like we should be enjoying the sunset just as much as he is. I want to be in Keptawan’s world. I want to watch the sunset again as if it is the first time I am seeing it. I want to watch the sunset again the following day and see it afresh yet again. That is Keptawan’s world and by the look on Napdao’s face, he is now a part of that world as well.
This short gem is more of a ‘feelings’ series than a visual one. You could feel the love between Napdao and Keptawan. Keptawan would have been happy for the rest of his life for having met Napdao; ecstatic simply for being his friend. But to love Napdao is greater than he hoped for, and he would unhesitatingly devote his life to him equally as much as he has done so to his mother and their land. That is pure love and simply foretold by who he is. What joy! I am not generally an envious person, but I am just a little here. Their world is Utopia. Oh, to wish it was real……….
This is on my Top 10 List for 2022 and like its predecessor, the Best BL so far for 2022. It remains magical in its simplicity and its message of pure love.
Rating: 5+ out of 5