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Credited cast:
Juliette Chen
Mai Huynh
Dominik Overstreet
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independent film | See All (1) »

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8 September 1995 (Canada)  »

Also Known As:

Eine Liebeserzählung  »

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Disgracing an important aspect of Vietnamese Culture in under 2 hours
24 September 2000 | by (Amherst, MA) – See all my reviews

Loosely ( and i say loosely loosely) based on Nguyen Du's The Tale of Kieu, this movie comes off like 'fun with the camera'- avant-garde workshop. It is the arthouse flick to (if only) end all arthouse flicks.

The modernization process of transforming kieu is the first and easiest place to criticize the film. It sucks, basically. I hardly see any parrellel's to the strong, desperate, victim of circumstance in the epic poem to the working day 'heroine' in this film. They have the same name. The line is drawn there. While Kieu in the book goes through hardship after hardship, Kieu in the movie doesn't appear to go through any hardship at all. She chooses to work in the sex industry- unlike the poem, which shows Kieu forced into prostitution to repay her intrinsic debt to her parents. Movie Kieu shows no sign of ever seeking out any alternatives in the industrialized world to help her relatives, whereas there were no options for book Kieu. Even if she had no options, there is no reason for me to care about her. Her character is not developed enough for me to grant her role any emotions. Her relationship with the photographer is supposovely "abusive," much like kieu's relationship with Scholar ma in the novel or any of the other b******s she was forced into relationships with. However, there is no sign of him treating her badly or her being uncomfortable. As far as pornographers go, he was relatively unsleazy. Sure, shecan complain about the obcession with women's bodies, belittling them to little more than sex objects and the photographer's insistence of shooting the body and no face as this is a movie about women's empowerment. But Kieu isn't a strong enough character to be a role model or a leader in woman's rights. She has no substance and its particularly degrading to female characthers of merit and strength like book Kieu to present someone so downright boring as an honest inspirational figure.

In addition, we are treated to excess pretension. Scenes of grass...waving in the wind. Dancing to loud Vietnamese music. Quotes from the Tale of Kieu.....cute idea, but they come with no relevance to storyline whatsoever. And worst of all is the characther of Juliet who tirades off things like perfume and turns them into existential metaphors for oppression or whatever. She makes no goddamned sense is all and possibly due to poor translation, poor script, poor acting, or all of the above, she comes off like a parody of herself.

Please, for the love of God, don't even bother with movie. I beg you. The Tale of Kieu has been an inspiration to the Vietnamese culture for generations upon generations. This is a sick joke to attempt to equate a beloved cultural artifact with a piece of artsploitation trash. It's like what one of those clay-mation Jesus specials is to Christians, irreverent in it's lack of effort.


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