After I read Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, I saw that a Vietnamese Director was to make a film out of it, due out next year. The co-worker who had lent me the book then brought in her DVD of this film. The story is told of an orphaned, eighteen year old cyclo driver (a sort of bicycle-rickshaw hybrid). He and his family (which include two sisters and a grandfather) live in Ho Chi Minh City (the former Saigon).The cyclo driver gets his cyclo stolen, which puts him into debt with his boss. He then falls in with the criminal underworld. As does his sister.
The film contains some startling images, but it’s one of those viewing experiences that probably need repeated viewings to fully appreciate the depth that they offer. As it is, the city itself is shown in all its modern splendor, and includes the colonial remnants, as well as the urban decay. The story mostly works as a metaphor for the city, and by extension, the society itself.
Vietnamese Director Tran Anh Hung lives and works in Paris.This film however, was shot entirely on location in Vietnam and portrays Ho Chi Minh city as a living, breathing metropolis. There are several shots of the city and it’s sprawl and teeming humanity. One toward the end of the film is particularly effective. Violent, bloody, sometimes garish, but never without style galore. Sometimes too much for its own good.