RedLife is an emotional Thai drama film that is centered around a red light area in Bangkok. We are introduced to Ter and Mind, a young couple desperate to make ends meet. Ter struggled to make peace with Mind’s line of work. The thought of his partner sleeping with strangers for money bothered him, but he lacked the education and skill required to land a decent job to keep themselves afloat. Living in the same neighborhood were Som and her mother, Aoi. Som was ashamed of her mother’s profession, and she often dreamt of running away from her reality. Aoi did everything in her power to ensure that her daughter never ended up living the life that she was forced to live. The paths of these characters cross now and then in RedLife, and in the end, it results in a tragedy.
Why did Ter end up in prison?
Ter joined a group of street robbers to make quick cash. He had to look out for danger, but on his very first job, the police caught him. Mind had to sleep with the precinct officer for Ter’s release. Ter felt humiliated when his friends joked about Mind. He desperately wanted her to stop working, but every time he proposed the idea, Mind reminded him of their financial condition. Mind suggested they get married to prove her loyalty to him. With the marriage certificate in hand, Ter felt a little relieved. He tried to make an honest living by working as a loader, but he was terrible at the job. He joined the robbers once again, but this time, drugs helped him boost his confidence. He was no longer the onlooker; he was the hitter, and the gang made loads of money because of him. Ter had earned the respect of his gang members, and he finally had enough cash to buy Mind a diamond ring.
With the box in his hand, Ter approached Mind during her work hours. She was busy negotiating with her client when Ter pressured her to take a break. Mind was offended after Ter refused to respect her work boundaries. She joined her client in his car, and to her surprise, Ter hopped in the car as well. What he assumed would be a beautiful ring exchange turned into a bitter memory. After seeing the ring, all Mind could think about was if the ring, too, was a robbed item. Ter felt humiliated, and he was suddenly filled with rage. Ter followed Mind and her client to the motel, and to get rid of him, Mind grabbed the box and slipped the ring into her finger.
Ter could not brush aside the thought of his wife being with another man, so he forcefully entered the room and grabbed hold of the client’s car keys. He walked out of the room, sat in the car, and drove the car out of the motel. Ter was completely lost, and he did everything out of frustration and anger. He was not afraid of running the car over the petrol police, and he ended up falling into the Chao Phraya River. Ter stayed in prison for the next two months, and by the time he returned, Mind was with another man, Kiang. Ter was extremely possessive about Mind, and most of the time, he was driven by his emotions. A lot of his frustration stemmed from his socioeconomic condition and his inability to escape the rut.
What happened to the money Aoi handed Som?
Som’s teachers at school kept reminding her to pay her debts. She was embarrassed by her situation and often wondered why her mother enrolled her at an institution far beyond her financial capability. Aoi wanted to offer the best to her daughter, and she managed to get the money in exchange for staying with her old client. She was ready to make a personal compromise for the sake of Som. She hoped someday her daughter would receive a degree and be offered a well-paying job. She dreamed of not working one day and spending a life of comfort with her daughter. Som failed to understand her mother; she was too young to realize the sacrifices Aoi was making for her.
Som’s life changed drastically after she met Peach. She barely had any friends at school owing to differences in social class. She came across Peach in the school washroom and went ahead to help her when she saw her hand bleeding. She assumed Peach was attempting suicide, and they instantly connected on an emotional level. Peach belonged to an affluent family, and her expensive lifestyle was unlike anything Som was used to. Som lied about her mother being a makeup artist, and she ignored her while strolling with Peach. One night at Peach’s condo, Som confessed her truth, and Peach was extremely supportive of her. Peach, too, spoke about her family. Her mother had remarried, and her stepfather was abusive. She missed her older sister, who had settled in Korea. Peach proposed they escape to Korea together, and Som trusted every word she said. She handed over all the money she had to Peach, and all of a sudden, Peach stopped attending classes.
Towards the end of RedLife, Som discovered that Peach did not have an elder sibling, and the picture she showed was of a Thai pop star. She was desperate to attend her concert, and she targeted Som to extract money from her. Aoi was devastated when she found out that her daughter had spent the entire fee on a lie. Som initially refused to accept that she had been fooled, but with time, it only became evident. At the end of RedLife, Peach returns to Bangkok, and their paths cross once again at the cafe Som worked at. Peach continued to spew lies, and even though Som knew the truth, she begged Peach to stay. Som was heartbroken when Peach left her; after all, she was the only person Som had left after she misbehaved with her mother. She called her mother for support, but her call went unanswered. Som resorted to self-harm as a response to the trauma she experienced. Her colleagues at the cafe came to her rescue.
What happened to Ter?
Ter was devastated when he found out that Mild was living with Kiang. Mild blamed Ter for destroying their relationship, and she refused to accept him. Ter begged Mild and Kiang to allow him to stay with them because he had nowhere else to go. The couple agreed to it, though the entire situation was awkward for Mild. Ter did not give up on Mild, and he was ready to do whatever it took to win her back. Ter planned a robbery with Kiang; he targeted the old man’s house where Aoi now lived. Ter did not care about the robbery; he planned to lure Kiang into the stranger’s house and stab him. He held onto his knife and was about to strike Kiang when, all of a sudden, he started to discuss his plans to travel to Chiang Mai with his other girlfriend. Ter realized he was not a threat, and he decided against attacking Kiang. The duo hid themselves when the old man and Aoi entered the house. They waited patiently for the right moment to steal.
Their plan fell apart when Aoi went upstairs. She planned on returning home to her daughter. Through the mirror, she noticed Ter hiding in the background. She wanted to scream, but Ter got hold of her. He tried to calm her down, but her muffled screams caused them to panic. At the end of RedLife, Kiang stabbed Aoi to death. A pool of blood started to spread around her lifeless body. Kiang was determined to rob the old man, and even after the murder, he decided to continue searching for valuables. Ter freaked out after the incident, and he decided to run for his life. Kiang assumed that the old man was gone, but he could not have been more wrong. The old man waited for the right moment to strike with a rifle in his hand. Kiang begged for his life, but it was too late.
Ter found Kiang’s body on the street, and his head was blown out. Ter returned home to Mild and embraced her in her sleep. She comforted him, and he assumed Mild was glad to have him back. But soon, Ter realized that every word Mild uttered was meant for Kiang. Redlife ends with Ter packing his things and walking out of the house. He realized he had no place in Mild’s life, and it was time for him to finally accept it. There are two possible endings to Ter’s story: he can either give life another chance and try to make an honest living, or he might decide that his life without Mild was futile and give up on it.
Did Aoi and Som reunite?
Som was unaware that her mother was stabbed to death, yet she experienced an aching pain when her mother did not receive her call. Unknowingly, she, too, underwent physical and emotional pain at the same time. The bond between the mother and daughter gave birth to a sense of intuition.
RedLife‘s ending suggests that Som always dreamed of meeting her mother one last time. Maybe the bitter memories haunt her now more than ever. She had ill-treated her mother and chosen a stranger over her. The film’s ending offers Som one last chance to hold her mother close to her heart. In Som’s dreams, she goes back to her house and finds her mother waiting for her. Som’s life took a tragic turn, with the only person who cared for her gone. Her mother was her reason to keep on fighting, and all of a sudden, she was taken away from her. Hopefully, Som will find the courage to not give up on her life.
In RedLife, we witness how one wrong decision taken within seconds ended up destroying lives. After getting her heart broken in a romantic relationship and at the same time losing her mother, Som will never be the same person. Indirectly, it was Ter who was responsible for the tragedy. It took people to die for Ter to realize that his relationship was not worth going against the entire world. But by then, it was all too late. The film also focuses on how death often remains the only option for those living on the margins of our society. They always run the risk of getting caught at the wrong place and at the wrong time, and even if they get lucky, life fails to provide them reasons to keep on fighting for their lives.