Pearls Of The Far East (2011)

by Liz on June 6, 2012

in Books & Entertainment

[FYI: There will be a free screening of Pearls Of The Far East (2011) on June 18, 2012 at 6:30 PM at Pratt Manhattan (144 West 14th Street, Second Floor, Room 213). Amy Guggenheim, Founder and Director of Global Cinema, has curated and produced nine film screenings. The series is co-presented with Pratt’s School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and there will be a Q&A with the film’s producer, Igor Szczurko. PS – I’ll be there!]

Can cinema reinvent Vietnam? That’s the question I asked myself after previewing Pearls Of The Far East, a beautiful film that floats a layer above reality. And by beautiful I mean seven tales set in timeless Edens that are the mountains and beaches of contemporary Vietnam.

Seven Vignettes, One Cinematic Experience

Cuong Ngo’s debut feature brings together distinct vignettes about forbidden desire and true love, stories filtered through the lens of sensitive, Vietnamese women protagonists. These women crave affection but seek it in unattainable lovers. They are torn between a sense of duty and the need to satisfy their own lust. All life stages are taken into consideration: childhood, the quarter life crisis, middle age, and married life. There’s a subdued, bittersweet undertone to the failed, romantic encounters. There’s also a prevailing anonymity to all of Ngo’s heroines, a trait that attributes each woman with both depth and distance: we rarely know their names but are introduced to their deepest desires. We feel we are on the receiving end of a fleeting glimpse of each life, lives we barely know, but then as we get closer, we feel the filmmaker is pulling us away to the next story.

A Different Vietnam

Vietnam in Pearls Of The Far East is stunning, breathtakingly beautiful. So are the actors populating the front and center of each plot. The busy streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh that may be more familiar to travelers are remarkably absent. Instead, it is the isolated beaches and lush, green mountains of the north that speak to the peace and serenity of Ngo’s cinematic Vietnam. Pearls Of The Far East allows the viewer to see Vietnam, far removed from the popularized, Hollywood image of the country as apocalyptic jungle, or symbol of failed American policy. Because as time marches on, and old memories are discarded for new ones, there’s a good chance filmmakers will seize the moment to tell a story that will resonate with an audience ready for something gratifyingly different.

And yes, we’re ready.

For more see here and here.

(Images via)

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