Queer Cambodian/Chinese filmmaker Hong Khaou’s sophomore movie that draws heavily from his own past unfolds at the slowest of paces in a very similar style as his debut film Lilting. This time the story is about a British/Vietnamese man going back to his birthplace for the first time since he was 6 years old when his family escaped to London to avoid the war.
Kit’ (Henry Golding) is making this journey as his mother had recently died and now he is taking her ashes and those of his father, to scatter in Vietnam. When he arrive his distant cousin remarks that the move seems rather ironic as both his parents could not wait to leave.
Kit, a gay man of few words, now on his 30’s has quit his job in the UK and seems to be undertaking this trip as part of a journey of self discovery. To distract himself whilst he is in Ho Chi Minh City (the locals still insist on calling it Saigon) looking for a final resting place for his parents, he has an online hookup with Lewis (Parker Sawyers) an ex-pat American.
Lewis tries to help Kit to see the positive side of contemporary Vietnam but Kit is still clinging to the last of his childhood memories of a country at war that he can barely remember .
A side train trip to Hanoi (a mere 30 hour journey) to reconnoiter his mother’s birth place at least gives him a new friend in the form of a Tour Guide, but very little else.
There is in fact little sense of closure in this gentle drama, but somehow that doesn’t seem to faze Kit at all. His reunion with Lewis back in Saigon and the final arrival of his brother from the UK to help scatter the ashes at least brings Kit a sense of happiness if nothing else.
It’s all a great contrast to the cousin he had reunited with who shows all the scars of someone who never was able to escape and has not been able to ever completely deal with.
The timing of the release of the movie couldn’t be more perfect as the whole subject of forced immigration and resettlement is such a hot potato topic in these unstable political times. Except that we know now that many of LGBTQ community who are having to flee their homelands for their very own safety, will never be allowed Kit’s luxury of ever going back for even a visit.
Both Golding and Sawyer put in finely nuanced performances in this intriguing wee film that will particular appeal to all of us who have been uprooted whether by choice or not.
P.S. Monsoon will be screened at OUTFEST Virtual Film Festival
Labels: 2020, drama, Henry Goldng, Hing Khaou, Vietnam