The celebrated Ann Hui tells the story of a Japanese photographer who returns to communist Vietnam three years after the war. His government handlers guide him through scenes of a thriving society, carefully curated for the outside world’s benefit. The cracks in the façade begin to show, however, when he tours a classroom where the kids are so starved for human contact that they swarm the stranger with a camera and beg to be held. A young city girl and her family then reveal to him the unlivable conditions on the streets that the regime wants to hide. For such an unabashedly political film, in which tragic violence can erupt at any moment, Hui avoids sentimentality by locating an outsider’s disorientation and helplessness in the face of the unfathomable.
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The Bri-terion Collection
I’m loving the Criterion Channel streaming service, so every week I’m going to share my favorite new find.