Thailand has selected Venice title Last Life In The Universe as its official foreign-language Oscar contender.

The film, which is directed by Pen-Et Ratanaruang, is currently represented in the Controcorrente or Upsteam competition section of the Venice festival.

It has drawn plaudits for its cool storytelling and visual intelligence and marked Ratanaruang's coming of age as an art-house film-maker of international repute. It has already been picked up in the UK by Artificial Eye.

The first film from the Bohemian Film Company, Last Life In The Universe is a dark romantic comedy that revolves around a young suicide-obsessed Japanese man, Kenji, played by Tadanobu Asano - also appearing in another Venice favourite Takeshi Kitano's Zatoichi.

A multination co-porduction between Thailand, Holland, Japan and Singapore, Last Life follows Kenji after he uncosciously kills a Yakuza ganster and goes on the run. There he bumps into Noi (Nun Sinitra), a woman who happened to have accidentally killed her younger sister on the same night. Together they hide for three days looking for life love and salvation.

Pen-Et Ratanaruang previously directed underground hits 6ixtynin9 and music romance Monrak Transistor, which appeared in Un Certain Regard at Cannes last year.