Arnold Is a Model Student. 2022. Thailand/Singapore/France/Netherlands/Philippines. Directed by Sorayos Prapapan. New York Premiere. In Thai; English subtitles. 85 min.
Taking a deceptively comic approach to contemporary social and political realities in his native Thailand, debut filmmaker Sorayos Prapapan has fashioned an original and gripping vision set in the rigid, cutthroat environment of high school. As the title promises, senior student Arnold excels at his studies and is a frontrunner for education scholarships and accolades. Yet after returning from studying abroad in the United States, he begins to question the meaning and authoritarian practices of school itself, and his growing awareness then makes him ripe for temptation into an underground cheating ring. Based in part on the Bad Student movement in Thailand, which saw high schoolers taking a stand against physical punishment, dress codes, and other autocratic practices, Prapapan’s movie presents a hard, highly entertaining look at the options open to young people in a dictatorial world.