The Last Executioner

If you’re looking for an arthouse film then you’re in the wrong cell block, as Tom Waller’s uplifting biopic THE LAST EXECUTIONER is not really about prisons, prisoners, guards, death sentences or actual executions: it’s simply about a man, acting like a man, doing the right thing for his family.

The man is Chavoret Jaruboon (Vithaya Pansringarm), and the story is about his life in Thailand from the fifties to the noughties. As a young boy Chavoret visits a fortune teller who says he will deal in death. Growing up, he plays guitar in a band and meets future wife Tew (Penpak Sirikul). They conceive a child and Chavoret’s dreams of being Elvis or Thailand’s answer to The Beatles is shot. He becomes a guard at the notorious Bang Kwang Central Prison. From here he gains promotion after promotion, and as his family matures the bills mount up. He’s offered the position of executioner where the dangle of extra pay nudges him into taking the dreaded role. Pressure builds as Chavoret agonises whether he can do the job.

In a post-screening discussion Waller and producer Michael Pritchett offered great insight into how they made the film. The most interesting fact was that they were only granted forty-five minutes to film in the actual prison. The perfect moment of the discussion came at the end from a humble Waller asking the audience if they enjoyed the film. A resounding yes from all.

Watching this will conjure up similar themed films, such as Alan Parker’s MIDNIGHT EXPRESS (1978), although we don’t see from the prisoners’ viewpoint, and Frank Darabont’s THE GREEN MILE (1999), yet there are no sentimental pre-execution scenes – although the film posters are alike! THE LAST EXECUTIONER is more akin to Adrian Shergold’s PIERREPOINT: THE LAST HANGMAN (2005).

With more highlights to this film than prisoners, the standout is Don Linder’s script: it focuses on the man, not the job. It is thought provoking, occasionally sad. It shows Chavoret’s loving relationships, especially with his wife and daughter Chulee (Thanyarat Praditthaen), plus the touches of comedy are fitting for what could be a bleak script in the hands of a lesser writer.

This amazing film is especially for anyone whose father does/did the same job all his life, who worked no matter the weather, who cared more for your happiness than his. Chavoret was that kind of man.


3 Responses to “The Last Executioner”
  1. Don L says:

    Garry. I’d like to thank you for the glowing review. Too bad I couldn’t be at the festival, but prepping for an October trip from Thailand to NYC for the NYC Independent Film Festival. How can I get in touch with you other than by Comments? Best, Don Linder

  2. Rosy Rockets says:

    Hi Don, if you’d like to email me at I can pass your contact details to Garry. Many thanks for your comment! – Rosy (Editor)


    One hopes that fun was had by Tom and Michael with the Q&As, too (of which @THEAGENTAPSLEY hosted one)…

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