Making its World Premiere at the Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival (starting tomorrow, Tuesday, November 8th-19th) is PEARLS OF THE FAR EAST (Canada/Vietnam), a collection of seven short stories inspired by true events spanning several generations. The film captures some of the most breathtaking images of Vietnam making each frame absolutely postcard worthy gorgeous to watch.
More after the jump.
For those who enjoy a rich and intellectually stimulating movie going experience should look no further. Not much is actually said throughout the 92 minute run where the ambient sounds of nature with the music score are character onto itself. It’s quite a refreshing choice for the filmmakers to have its characters carry the story, some without uttering a single word. (Side note: I’m reminded of one of Kim Ki-Duk’s 3-IRON.)
All seven stories are linked by a themes of longing and desire. One particularly stand out story is set on a deserted island where a young woman (singer/actress Ngo Thanh Van) grows increasingly uncomfortable with her feelings of desire for the man she lives with. Another features writer Minh Ngoc Nguyen, whose award-winning stories that inspired the film, as a fashion designer reminiscing about the beloved wedding gowns she designed but never got to wear. Veteran legend, Vietnamese-American actress Kieu Chinh (Journey from the Fall, Joy Luck Club) makes an appearance as a retired performer stuck in the monotony of life after the stage.
As much as I really enjoyed the film, there was far too much non-dialogue and symbolism that it kinda hurt my head to fill-in-the-blanks and make interpretations. Because there is so little dialogue, your eyes are glued to the screen in order to pick up every nuance and witness every gesture. A part of me feels I’m missing out on some subtle cultural complexities where the silent gaps would fill. Still, it certainly does not take away from the strong performances of its ensemble cast truly beating home, “the less said, the better.”
Stunning to watch. Captivating performances. – Highly Recommended