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A boy who is believed to bring bad luck to everyone around him leads his family and two new friends through Laos to find a new home. After a calamity-filled journey through a land scarred by the legacy of war, to prove he's not bad luck he builds a giant rocket to enter the most exciting and dangerous competition of the year: the Rocket Festival. Written by
Red Lamp Films
There have been some outstanding child performances this year including that of Tye Sheridan, Liam James, Kacey Mottet Klein, and others, but none better than little Sitthiphon Disamoe's in Kim Mordaunt's The Rocket. A hit at the Berlinale, The Rocket also took top prizes at the Tribeca Film Festival including the Best Narrative Feature, Audience Award, and the Best Actor award for Disamoe. An Australian, Laotian, and Thai co-production, the film can be accused of being formulaic, but it is so full of spirit and genuine warmth that it more than earns its audience appeal.
Shot in northern Laos, Mordaunt does not hesitate to remind of us of the legacy of American bombs dropped during the Vietnam War and still visible in the vegetation, nor does he flinch from depicting the reality of poverty and exploitation. In the film, Ahlo (Disamoe) is a ten-year-old full of high energy but burdened with having to prove that he is not the carrier of bad luck. Born in a small hut in a remote Laotian village, Ahlo is a twin whose sibling died during childbirth and whose grandmother Taitok (Bunsri Yindi) proclaimed that he was cursed from the outset. Sadly, distressing events in his young life seemed to give credence to the prophecy.
As their village was being torn down to make room for a dam, Ahlo (now ten-years-old) and his family are relocated to a shantytown that is worse than their former home; the boy's mother Mali (Alice Kaohavong) is involved in a tragic accident, and Ahlo's relationship with his father Toma (Sumrit Warin) becomes distant and strained. Feeling alone, he develops a friendship with Kia (Loungnam Kaosainam) a young girl whose family died from malaria, and who lives with her quirky "Uncle Purple," (Thep Phongam), a heavy drinker and ex-soldier who models himself after American singer James Brown.
After taking food from a holy place, Ahlo's attempt to return it causes serious problems for his family and they are forced to go on the road looking for a new home. When they stumble on an annual rocket festival where top prizes lure participants to build and launch the best rocket into the sky to beseech the sky gods to bring rain, Ahlo seizes the opportunity to bury his image as the carrier of bad luck. While The Rocket requires a suspension of disbelief, it is only a small possibility that you will leave the theater unmoved.
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