Tran Anh Hung, raised in Paris,
Scent of Green Papaya (1993) tells the love story of a servant girl and a rich boy.
Mua He Chieu Thang Dung/ Vertical Ray of the Sun (2000)
is the cinematic equivalent of chamber music, or still nature.
The director roams the lives of the characters while nothing truly
happens, as in an eternal never-changing present.
The director sets a languid, majestic pace for these lives that feel
like a sequence of paintings in a museum, each perfectly organized.
AS he carefully, delicately, gently moves the surface of the picture, we see the details,
and begin to realize that there is dirt underneath the angelic smoothness.
Towards the end, the film actually gets quite eventful, only to realize
that the end is really the beginning.
Three sisters, two married and one still single,
are preparing a memorial meal while the men chat in a room.
Khanh is married to novelist Kien, whose first novel never seems
Suong is married to Quoc, a photographer specializing in rare plant species,
and they have a little boy.
The youngest sister, childish Lien, lives with her twin brother, Hai/Toan, and
often sleeps in his bed, indifferent to what people may think of their
Each of the members of the family prays to the pictures of the dead parents and then they set to eat the big meal all together.
Her father died one month after her mother (who was, by coincidence, one month older than him), and the sisters want to believe
it was a lifetime-long love story. But they know that her mother had a previous
lover, although it is not clear what kind of relationship really was.
Kien is researching the story of the mysterious lover but the sisters are
not sure that they want to know more.
The three sisters are simple girls, still attached to traditional values.
Quoc is often out of town for his research.
He works at a lab in a tropical island, surrounded by awe-inspiring natural beauty.
Kien and Khanh love each other very tenderly.
She tells him that she is pregnant and he almost faints.
Tuan has a lover who refuses to speak a single word. They always make love
without speaking. She threatens to leave him if he tries to speak to her again.
He begs her to say his name just one last time, but she simply kisses him and
makes love to him.
Their relationship is most languid languor in the whole film, almost unbearably
Two sisters wash their hair in front of a mirror and by a fish tank.
Lien and Toan listen to slow, languid western music. Then he tells her of
the movie in which he has a small part. Then they chase each other around
the apartment like little children.
Khanh is another languid nadir of the film, rarely saying more than needs
to be said, contemplating rather than acting, letting others talk for her.
Kien asks her permission to fly to Saigon and continue his research into
her mother's lover.
Lien is looking for Ho under the rain. Ho hides from her. He's afraid of her,
he feels that she dominates him. But his best friend convinces him that Lien
has not done any harm and he shouldn't treat her like that.
Everything is slow, sleepy, dreamy.
Quoc has another wife and another child in the island. They live in a hut
by the water, surrounded by enchanted nature. They are happy to see him and he is happy to see them.
Quoc has decided to go back to the city and speak to Suong, and tells his
His double life has been going on for four years now. She knows, but Suong
His other wife is very docile: she lets him go and simply hopes that he will come back.
Khanh is worried about something and asks her sister Suong if she ever
considered cheating on Quoc. Suong confesses she had a secret love story with
a businessman named Tuan, but they never had sex: she eventually told him
that their story had no future.
In Saigon, Kien meets an old acquaintance, Hien, who invites him to her hotel
room. He knocks at the door, finds it open and finds Hien half-naked in bed.
But then he just walks out, leaving the woman puzzled.
The twins are still sharing beds and fighting like children, but also dancing
at their languid pop music.
Tuan and his silent lover are also dancing.
Quoc returns and talks to Suong...
Kien returns and gets the usual loving welcome by Khanh. He finished the novel
in just two days. He doesn't tell Khanh of Hien, but Hien has called Khanh
and told her that she saw him. Khanh is only mad because Kien told Hien of
her pregnancy, which was supposed to remain a secret for a while. But then
she looks into the pocket of his coat and finds the note that she wrote
inviting him to her hotel room...
Suong shocks Quoc by telling him that she has always known of his double
life. She guessed the truth from his pictures of the natives, which always
included a child. And she saw that child grow as if he was her own child.
She accepted it. She knows he can't erase the other family. She accepts it.
She only wants him to love her better than he has because, after all, she
"is" his wife.
The silent lover bids farewell from Tuan. (It's been obviously a flashback
that told the story of Khanh's half-adultery).
Lien has her own problems with her student of architecture. Eventually,
she reveals what the problem is to her sisters: she is pregnant,
pregnant of the student. Suong gets furious with her. Khanh starts crying:
she tells them that she is pregnant too, and that she suspects that Kien
cheated on her in Saigon. Now they all cry together.
But then soon they realize that Lien is wrong: she is confused because
inexperienced, but she can't be pregnant (she just had her period).
Lien is all excited and, while getting ready, she tells her twin brother
that she and her sisters are taking care of the memorial meal. So it was
all a flashback to explain what had just happened before the memorial meal...
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx) |
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