Thailand's Pen-ek Ratanaruang made his reputation with a series of stylish, violent, and oddly contemplative crime thrillers including 6ixtynin9 and Last Life in the Universe. He returns to his strengths with this self-styled "Buddhist film noir," seen at SIFF this spring. Shuffling crime-genre elements with philosophical musings ("Justice does not exist in nature," ponders our tormented hero) and a quest for truth in a world of lies and manipulations, Ratanaruang comes up with a twisty, enigmatic tale about a contract killer with a complicated backstory and a unique perspective. Thanks to a bullet in the head (just one of the many head wounds in the film), he sees everything upside down, which puts him at a real disadvantage in a getaway but doesn't faze his accuracy. Headshot is designed to obfuscate, slipping back and forth through flashbacks and enigmatic visions, often shuffled out of order. This keeps us guessing as to what's really happening to the enigmatic, oddly passive Tul (Nopporn Chaiyanam). Filled with assassins, patsies, and philosophical detours, Headshot is either a very violent Buddhist parable or an almost-too-clever conspiracy tale. Perhaps confusion is the path to enlightenment.
Chaiyanam as the soulful gunman.
Runs Fri., Sept. 28-Thurs., Oct. 4 at Grand Illusion. Not rated. 105 minutes.