6.4/10
112
4 user 1 critic

Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989)

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1 April 1989 (USA)  »

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Nachname: Viet - Vorname: Nam  »

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Beautiful
7 November 2008 | by See all my reviews

This movie is not for those looking for the glossy, dumbed-down Hollywood documentary- if that's what you want, pass this and go to Michael Moore, choose one of his movies where the nice man will tell you what to think.

"Surname Viet Given Name Nam" is an intricate, beautiful tapestry of a film that requires you to pay complete attention to the screen in order to fully appreciate it. It can be difficult to understand at times because some of the Vietnamese women speak with thick accents. However, if the viewer simply listens to them, eventually the individual cadences of their voices fall into place and what they are saying becomes understandable. The scenes are layered, not simply documentary-style face-and-scene shots but tight, personal angles. The scene might begin with a close up of a woman's face, however the shot travels to take in her hands twisting and gesturing or her feet shuffling as she speaks. On top of this are occasional blocks of text-subtitles and occasionally, a song mixing with the woman's words intentionally obscuring her reality with the wistful, fairy-tale like lyrics. So as not to spoil the movie, I'll just say that the two halves of it contrast beautifully- black & white and colour, Vietnam and America, past and present. This film is amazing, don't let the racist, West-centric review for this movie fool you. Watch is with an open mind and heart and you'll do fine.


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