A review of the recent independent film “Monsoon”

The story in this film – a search for a sense of cultural identity – is loosely inspired by the experience of writer and director Hong Khaou whose family was forced to flee Cambodia so that he was brought up in Britain.

Kit – played by Henry Golding in a more mature role than in “Crazy Rich Asians” – is a British-Vietnamese who had to leave Vietnam when he was six as his parents made a new life in Britain. He returns to the country of his birth over three decades later to visit where his parents lived (Ho Chi Minn City which was then Saigon) and where they were brought up (Hanoi).

The film was short entirely on location in Vietnam (I’ve visited both cities) and it is beautifully photographed from the opening scene of traffic at a busy crossroads. But the pace of the narrative is slow, even languid, and the dialogue is spare with little explanation of motivation, so ultimately this is a work in which style triumphs over substance.


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