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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Adrift – Choi voi, Director - Chuyen Bui Thac, Screenplay - Dang Thi Phan

I was in a state of being adrift when deciding whether or not I should go to see ‘Adrift’. Upon seeing the trailer on youtube, I was very much put off by it, mostly by the presence of Johnny Nguyen, the horrendously bad actor who is in ‘The Rebel’, ‘Ban Mai’ etcetera, and at first impression, the way the trailer being played out, it makes the film seems a bit try hard and artistically pretentious. Nevertheless, I had a two-for-one ticket, and it was also an Australian premier, so why not get adrift!!!

Surprisingly, the film is much better than I expected, the term ‘adrift’ is accurately and cleverly defines throughout the film. And there are many ways of being adrift: for a young woman, Duyen (the main actress), one can often be adrift in amidst of being a traditional Vietnamese and a modern one, adrift in amidst of discovering her sensuality, adrift in finding out something and yet never gets to know it fully. For a man, one can often be adrift in amidst of his masculinity, not a boy, but not yet a man (hahaha, sounds like a Britney Spears’ song), regarding his ambition, he can be adrift in amidst of his reality and dream (the man and his fighting rooster).

While seeing several characters progressively being caught in the state of ‘adrift’, there are two female characters that are already being ‘adrift’ and the comparison is obvious. There are certain senses of resignation to life and a certain senses of despair in both, while for the ones who are still in the process; their innocence is tricking out them like white sap from a tree and their curiosity pushes them on into the state of being ‘adrift’. In many ways, being ‘adrift’ is both enlightening and sad, like the concept of ‘existentialism’ though this is not discussed in the film and certainly doesn’t need to.

The camera work and lighting are simple and effective, Hanoi is accurately portrayed, its beauty is not glorified as it is in ‘the vertical ray of the sun’ by ‘Tran Anh Hung’, yet in this reality, I find Hanoi much more real and the colours are much more liberating than they are in ‘the vertical ray of the sun’, the poetry in the camera work and lighting are much more subtle. The Vietnamese way of life and of living is sharply put on camera, though the dialogues can seem pretentious at times. The music is intriguing, but irrelevant to the film, the remixed of the song ‘Det Tam Gai’ is the main source and it probably is the most pretentious element in the film. Luckily Johnny Nguyen doesn’t have much to act in the film, I just find him so stiff and unconvincing, though all other actors are mighty fine, in both acting forms and figures (hehe). Adrift, I found, is a simple concept, yet interesting. The film has much more to offer, I find many earthy elements in the Vietnamese culture and the simplicity of the Vietnamese way of life is very heart warming, though this may only appear to Vietnamese audiences living in western countries. The interactions between the characters (especially Hai, Duyen’s husband and the little girl from his neighbourhood) show the openness of our Vietnamese character.

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