A child's resilience and the kindness of strangers. Thuy is 10, an orphan, working in her uncle's factory outside Saigon. He berates her constantly, so she runs away to Saigon. Over five days, we watch her survive on the streets selling flowers, while her uncle looks for her. She encounters Hai, a reserved zoo-keeper whose fiancée has jilted him. She also sells a flower to Lan, a flight attendant in the city for a layover, unlucky in love, who buys dinner for Thuy and offers her a place to stay that night. Thuy, who thinks of Lan as a sparrow and Hai as an owl, determines to bring them together. If she succeeds, then what; and what about her uncle? Written by
While one may argue that the ending is a little bit Hollywood, the movie itself is not. Featuring a stunning performance by ten-year-old Han Thi Pham, the movie stays with the viewer long after the credits roll.
I won't tell you the plot; there isn't much of one. The art of this movie is not so much about story as it is about human beings, their relationships with one another and how a little faith and a whole lot of belief can bring us all together.
There's not a wasted note here. The music, improbably an electric guitar, never overwhelms and is used with taste so rare with modern directors. You are invited to flow along with the story and live as if you are an onlooker on the streets of Saigon.
But all this wouldn't work without the brilliant understatement of its centerpiece, Han Thi Pham. Working without much expression, the actress uses her voice to convey emotion. The perfection and purity of her motives may seem suspect to many Westerners but in the setting of this story the result in at once sad and uplifting.
The script is crisp, the camera work utilitarian and the direction never more than what is needed. This is movie making the way it should be. It is a film perfect for repeat viewings, such is the depth of emotion and simple story-telling.
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