Film and TV

Moving Story

During the last weeks before the fall of Saigon, tens of thousands of South Vietnamese, fearful of NVA recriminations, fled the country for the United States, where they were held in relocation camps until American sponsors could be found. First-time director Timothy Linh Bui--who co-wrote and co-produced his brother Tony's excellent 1999 feature, Three Seasons--re-creates life in the Camp Pendleton relocation center, following a number of intertwining stories. The center is 8-year-old Minh (Trung Hieu Nguyen), who, despite the language barrier, bonds with a lonely kitchen worker (Forest Whitaker, who also co-produced). At the same time, Minh's bilingual uncle (Don Duong) quickly becomes a liaison between the Vietnamese and the Marine sergeant in charge (Patrick Swayze). The film is often moving and explores the discomfort inherent in the contacts between the American "hosts" and their "guests," but its effect is diluted by slow pacing and lengthiness. Duong, who also starred in Three Seasons, gives another strong performance here.
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Andy Klein