Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Monsoon - Movie Review

The Movie: Monsoon

The Director: Hong Khaou

The Cast: Henry Golding, Parker Sawyers, Molly Harris, David Tran

The Story: Kit, a British Vietnamese man, returns to Saigon for the first time in over 30 years, after fleeing during the Vietnam-American War.

The Review:
Monsoon is one of those quiet, contemplative movies that emphasizes the internal struggle a human being goes through during the time we see them on screen. Henry Golding, who we all know as Nick Young from Crazy Rich Asians, continues to branch out into characters who are very complex and so different from who we see him as in that iconic movie. Right off the bat, playing Kit, a gay Asian man from England reconnecting with his roots in Vietnam, Golding shows he is willing to take on unconventional roles while I think also looking to normalize them.

In 2014, Cambodian director Hong Khaou released a film called Lilting that also deals with the aftermath of death within a family so this is pretty familiar territory for the director. The reason I say that is because the story plays out with a very relaxed nature which allowed me to connect to the characters in a very easy and free flowing way. Even when characters are interacting with each other, the moments aren't dialog heavy which I liked because it allowed the actors to speak with body language and gestures and the way they looked at each other said so much.

Honestly, there really isn't a whole lot to this story and I don't feel like Golding's character has any major breakthroughs or life changing moments. What I do get from this film is that we get to see a man reconnect with a life he barely knew and come to realize that what he knew is mostly gone so it's probably time to get on with life in a healthier way than he has been able to. There are very subtle shifts in how he communicates over the course of the movie and there is a sense of growth and maturation even if a lot of it is very subtle.

One area that director Hong Khaou is not very subtle is in his visual exploration of Vietnam. He takes great care to really show the beauty and age and complexity of the cities. He explores art and architecture just as carefully as he explores Kit's emotional architecture and I feel like I actually learned a lot about Vietnamese culture and history from watching this movie. The storytelling is very human and Khaou looks at humanity in several different ways while maintaining a perfectly relaxed vibe. I also really love how the fact that Kit is gay doesn't really matter and isn't the focus of the story it's just who he is.

The Verdict:
Monsoon is a quiet storm of nuanced storytelling highlighted by a performance from Henry Golding that proves he belongs among today's top leading men.

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