Monday, June 5, 2017

Diamond Island (SIFF 2017) - Movie Review

The Movie: Diamond Island

The Director: Davy Chou

The Cast: Sobon Noun, Cheanik Nov, Madeza Chhem, Mean Korn, Samnang Nut, Sophyna Meng, Jany Min, Samnang Khim, Batham Oun, Sreyleap Hang, Sreyroth Dom

The Story: An adolescent leaves rural Cambodia to become a construction worker only to be reunited with his missing older brother.

The Review:
Davy Chou's debut feature film is a somber tale of Cambodia's youth and digs deep into the economic contrast of a country still piecing itself back together after decades of oppression and tragedy. With the help of cinematographer Thomas Favel, bold colors and vivid lighting are used to create a visually rich environment for his characters to inhabit.

The story centers on a teenager named Bora, played by Sobon Nuon, who splits time between working a construction job and hanging out with his friends. Every actor in the movie, including Nuon, is making their feature film debut which brings both an innocence and an inexperience to their performances which creates a bit of a documentary feel. While you get some really raw and natural performances from the cast, the drawback to this is an emotional detachment that lessens some of the story's intended dramatic impact. That being said, I still enjoyed watching this group of young actors and actresses do their thing on screen, you could tell they really enjoyed being part of this project.

The Verdict:
Diamond Island is a very solid, beautifully filmed debut from Davy Chou that suffers from inexperience yet still manages to give the audience a compelling look into the lives of Cambodia's impoverished youth.

Diamond Island is an official selection of the 2017 Seattle International Film Festival.

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