23 January 2003 | paperbasket
As a Vietnamese, I have to begin by thanking Tran Anh Hung for all that he has done for Vietnamese cinema. He has beautifully brought to the world an image of Vietnam other than that of some evil Communists in American war movies.
Now onto my review of this film.
It is a beautifully shot movie. The fresh, cool colors through the movie really do transport the viewer to somewhere similar to a tropical paradise. The story is slow but the writing is smart. Things are happening even though you feel like nothing has happened. The film is about 3 sisters and their adventures in love. The two older are married and are facing infidelity in their relationships. The youngest is still dating other men, although her close relationship with her brother only suggests some disturbing truth.
The acting is the movie is restrained but mostly good. My only problem is with Tran Nu Yen Khe as the youngest sister. I know that she is the director's wife, thus she appears in all his movie. But is this necessary, Tran Anh Hung? She is certainly a beautiful actress, but her Vietnamese is horrible. While everyone in the movie is speaking flawless, authentic Vietnamese, she struggles as if reading with a monotone in an accent that clearly indicates that she never learns Vietnamese in Vietnam. This has completely thrown me off during the movie. Whenever she speaks, I am reminded that this is a movie and not real. In Mui Du Du Xanh, the first film of Tran Anh Hung, I don't have a real problem because she speaks a total of maybe 3 lines and those are from reading a book so it doesn't bother me. But in Cyclo, while the actors and actress who play her family speak with a specific accent from a province in Vietnam (Quang Nam), she again speaks in a monotone with an accent of a foreigner. And it happens again here in this film. This problem is equivalent to an actor who plays an authentic Texan and speaks with a European accent. It just doesn't make sense. Of course, to people who don't speak Vietnamese, this is not a problem. But to a Vietnamese like myself, I can think of many other actresses who are much better for the job.
But don't let my ranting about Tran Nu Yen Khe discourage you from seeing this movie. It will be one of the most beautiful film you have ever seen and I think you will like it.