›› Monsoon ‹‹

a film by Hong Khaou.

2019 | 85 mins | UK.

a gentle work on life, love and personal identity.

Dave says:

Perhaps too slow for some, this heart-warming, if understated film tells the story of Kit (Henry Golding); a naturalized British citizen who returns to Vietnam, thirty-or-so years after his parents fled the country as refugees when he was only six. Officially there to scatter his parents ashes, alongside his brother and his family who are due to arrive later, it soon becomes apparent that his raison d'être is to somehow make sense of his family's past in a land that in effect, is new to him; apart that is from a few childhood memories that he comes to share with his best friend of years-gone-by, Lee (David Tran).

Making the most of his time in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, along the way taking in its sights and sounds, it isn't long before Kit's journey becomes complicated when a one-night stand turns into anything but. Realizing that he's fallen in love with American fashion designer Lewis (Parker Sawyers); namely a man still struggling to come to terms with his father's involvement in the Vietnam war, Kit finds himself questioning his path in life, knowing that in a few days time he's set to leave behind both his cultural heritage and a love that is anything but a holiday romance. The question is: what is he to do?

Played with a nature charm by Golding, previously seen in such light romantic works as Crazy Rich Asians and Last Christmas, here Golding subtly conveys the emotions of a lost soul, desperately trying to reconcile his past with the present, whilst gradually becoming more at home in his native land. It's a narrative recipe for spiritual rebirth that finds Sawyers (previously seen as Barack Obama in Richard Tanne's Southside with You) the dynamic Yin opposite Kit's introspective Yang. Yet whilst their scenes together are central to the plot, they do not overpower it, as Kit also spends his time reminiscing with Lee and his family cue some ill-judged gifts and with Molly Harris who delivers a touching turn as budding artist Linh, who is all but trapped in a family business devoted to the mystical properties of lotus tea.

In short, this is a gentle work on life, love and personal identity, one that sees writer and director Hong Khaou of Lilting fame strikingly juxtapose the overcrowded poverty of the city, with scenes of opulence for those with money. That the brief moments of sex between the two men are sensual, rather than explicit, reflects the tone of the feature, as its sets out to remind the audience of the generational differences between those who lived through the turbulent history of Vietnam and those who want to embrace its present and future. That the end result is clearly not going to be to everyone's cinematic taste, kind of goes without saying. But for those who like a film with a contemplative approach to life, then this beautifully shot and finely crafted work is for you. Need more be said?

›› available as part of the Peccadillo Pictures catalogue: November 2020 / UK.
›› posted: Wednesday, 2nd December, 2020.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - from the waist up. 
Overall - file under ... 4 stars. 

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