7.5/10
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33 user 42 critic

The Beautiful Country (2004)

After reuniting with his mother in Ho Chi Minh City, a family tragedy causes Binh to flee from Viet Nam to America. Landing in New York, Binh begins a road trip to Texas, where his American father is said to live.

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Writers:

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1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Director: Hans Petter Moland
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Damien Nguyen ...
Binh
...
Ling
Thi Hoa Mai ...
Wa
...
Steve
...
Captain Oh
...
Chingmy
...
Snakehead
Xuan Phuc Dins ...
Pham
Thu An Nguyen ...
Old Woman
Ka Duy Pham ...
Cousin 15 years old
Minh Trang Ngo ...
Cousin 14 years old
Dang Quoc Thinh Tran ...
Tam
Thi Kim Xuan Chau ...
Mai
Tang Vu ...
Head Servant
Thu Anh ...
Mrs. Hoa
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Storyline

One of the consequences of the U.S.-Viet Nam war was the children of G.I.s by their Viet Namese wives and lovers. For years, women who were involved with U.S. soldiers were social outcasts, treated as collaborators while their children, even when living with grandparents, endured taunts and abuse. This is the story of one such child, Binh, being forced from his village at seventeen years, going to Saigon to find his mother, then trying to escape to the U.S. with his much younger half-brother, Tam, in 1990. The film lingers on the rigors of the voyage: the sampan, the Malaysian detention camps, the illegal refugee ship, and the underground economy with near-slavery in New York City. It then opens up when Binh leaves New York for Houston to find his father. Written by Maple-2

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

An epic story of hope.

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language and a crude sexual reference | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

|

Release Date:

13 March 2004 (Norway)  »

Also Known As:

Gi tis epangelias  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$25,900 (USA) (8 July 2005)

Gross:

$442,612 (USA) (7 October 2005)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Cinecolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

In some scenes, the upper part of the hull is painted white. In others, it is black. See more »

Quotes

Steve: [about his long lost wife] I never saw someone so beautiful before - in all that ugliness.
See more »

Connections

Featured in 2006 Independent Spirit Awards (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

 
They come into America
16 December 2005 | by (Planet Earth) – See all my reviews

One of the least attractive aspects of the American movie industry is that while crap, such as "Fever Pitch" (the remake), "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Be Cool," get millions of dollars spent on marketing and promotion and are splashed on thousands of screens, a gem like "The Beautiful Country" gets barely released. Even then, it only hits the major cities.

I pretty much knew little to nothing about this film when I saw it. I vaguely recall seeing an Ebert & Roeper review of it, though I don't remember when they recommended it. What a completely wonderful surprise this one turned out to be.

"The Beautiful Country" is as much about the lengths to which immigrants will go to come to the United States as it is about a man's search for his father. Writer Sabina Murray (who apparently was hired by Terrence Malick and Edward R. Pressman to write a film about immigrants and came up with this idea) deftly uses Binh's (Damien Nguyen) quest as a device to depict the hardships of immigrants.

What ultimately makes "The Beautiful Country" a shattering experience is its complete unpretentiousness. There isn't a single emotion in this film that isn't earned. It's as much a testament to Murray's script as it is to the performances.

Nick Nolte might be the name actor in this film, but his role's relatively small. But, just as he did in "Hotel Rwanda" (2004), Nolte takes what's essentially a cameo and turns it into something memorable. He gives his character true depth.

The two surprises in this film are Nguyen and Bai Ling as Ling, a sexy Chinese refugee who is willing to do anything - anything - to fulfill her dreams. This is undoubtedly the best thing Bai Ling has done. Usually cast as caricatures or in minor roles, she imbues her character with genuine feeling. We understand and feel for this woman, her struggles and her passions.

Nguyen completely dominates the film. He doesn't do anything wrong. He underplays Binh so expertly, you'd think this was a veteran actor, not a novice. It's such an incredibly honest performance, you wouldn't for an instant believe Nguyen is a surfer boy from California. It's one of the year's best performances.

At a time when the news media and politicians seem to be concentrating on demonizing immigrants, it's important to see a film like this, to see why people leave their homelands, endure unimaginable suffering to come here. True, the immigrants in this film aren't of Arab descent or Haitian - we all know exactly how they'd be treated. But "The Beautiful Country" is all about the beauty and ugliness of life. It's also emotionally devastating at times. And what makes the film all the more remarkable is that the gut-wrenching scenes never come across as any sort of contrivance. There's no emotional blackmail here; the actors play the scenes straight and with a gesture, a simple word, manage to bring us to tears.

"The Beautiful Country" is a rare treasure, a film that never cheats us, never asks for what it hasn't earned and still manages to be deeply affecting. And in keeping with the rest of the film, the final scene is simply perfect.

A film like this deserves a much larger audience than it got. This is why we go to the movies.


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