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Film / Remote Control 2013

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Remote Control is a 2013 film from Mongolia directed by Byamba Sakhya.

Tsogoo is a teenaged boy who lives in a dilapidated yurt village on the outskirts of the capital of Ulaanbaatar. His is not a happy home life: his father is a drunken slob, his stepmother hates him, and his mother is nowhere to be seen. He is eking out a very meager existence riding the train into the city every day to sell fresh-from-the-cow milk to city dwellers. He is tempted by his older brother, who has left for the city and is now living as a petty thief and burglar. He is a talented artist but his skill does him no good in a dumpy countryside village.

Eventually Tsogoo stops going back home. He finds a spot atop an apartment building in the city and makes himself a crude shelter out of cardboard and plastic sheeting. He owns a pair of binoculars, and uses it in idle moments to watch the people in the apartments. He starts focusing on one particular person: Anu, a housewife whose marriage is on the rocks.



  • The Alcoholic: Tsogoo's father is a sloppy drunk who apparently doesn't work but does sell family possessions to buy liquor.
  • Arc Symbol: Flying, as a means of freedom and escape. Tsogoo's father tells an old folk tale about a young monk named Bunya, who built his own parachute as a means of flight; we see this story dramatized on the screen. Tsogoo draws a flip book about the flying monk. One of the problems with Anu's marriage is that her deathly fear of flying prevents her from spending time with her husband when he leaves the country to work (it seems he has a job in Berlin). Tsogoo often finds himself gazing at planes flying overhead. He draws a sketch of himself and Anu flying together. At different times Anu walks by the offices of a Mongolian airline and Tsogoo walks past an advertising poster for United Airlines.
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  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: At the very end, while sitting on the rooftop after having foiled the burglary, Tsogoo turns and looks straight at the camera.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The remote control.
    • First Tsogoo uses it to flip channels on Anu's TV while he watches through his binoculars from the roof across the street.
    • Then there's a humorous sequence where he flips on the TV in a vain attempt to ruin the moment when Anu and her husband are making out on the couch.
    • At the end Tsogoo has directed his brother and his fellow burglars to Anu's apartment, which is now vacant, she having left on a trip with her husband. But after having an attack of conscience, symbolized by his vision of the monk, Tsogoo turns the TV on while his brother is trying to jimmy open the apartment door. The noise convinces the burglars that someone is inside the apartment, and they run off.
  • Imagine Spot: Tsogoo has visions of Anu dressed as an ancient Mongolian princess. Near the end, as his brother's gang is about to break into Anu's apartment, he has a vision of Bunya, the monk from the folk tale about flying.
  • No Name Given: For Tsogoo's father and stepmother.
  • The Peeping Tom: Tsogoo's peering into the apartments across the street seems to be more about boredom than anything else. But he certainly doesn't look away when he sees Anu at the window wearing nothing but a shirt and panties.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: After Anu's husband leaves, apparently for good, Tsogoo puts up a drawing on Anu's door of he and her flying through the air together, hand in hand. Unfortunately this backfires for him as Anu thinks her husband left the drawing, and they have an emotional reconciliation. This leads to an amusing moment when Anu tells her husband about how much the drawing means to her, while he blinks in confusion before rolling with it.
  • Tableau: Tsogoo starts having visions of Anu dressed in the fancy gown and elaborate headgear of an ancient Mongolian princess. The first time he sees this, at the bus stop, all the commuters remain stationary, frozen, while Anu-as-princess calmly strides through them.
  • Title Drop: Tsogoo buys a universal remote. It turns out that a universal remote can work from quite a long ways away, as he uses the remote to turn on Anu's TV and flip channels, while watching from across the street with his binoculars.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Tsogoo's stepmom clearly cannot stand him and resents having to cook him dumplings.

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