"Tropical Malady," from Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, is one of the strangest modern fables you may ever see. It pulls you into an otherworldly, enchanting garden of sensuality and mythology, while portraying Thailand's connections to the mystical past and tacky present.

Split into two distinct chapters, "Tropical Malady" starts out as the evolving romance between two Thai men -- Keng (Banlop Lomnoi), a forest patrol soldier, and Tong (Sakda Kaewbuadee), a farmer -- but evolves into something deeper: a film about the atavistic wildness within people.

When Keng is dispatched into the jungle to track a mysterious beast that has been attacking and killing local livestock, his mission (in the movie's second half) becomes a mythical journey to the heart of Tong's darkness. And the lurking creature, you realize, in this dream state portion of the film, might well be the spirit of Tong himself. We are in the Thai equivalent of a Rousseau painting, in which we will encounter no borders between gender or species. Listen to the sounds of the tropical jungle, feel the pad of a lurking tiger and be prepared for a talking baboon; they're all coming your way in this challenging, extraordinary movie.

-- Desson Thomson