the scent of green papaya:a review

⊆ 2:57 PM by amadbrownwoman | , . | ˜ 0 comments »

i just watched the scent of green papaya and i thought i might as well write a movie review. i know, i know, this movie was released a thousand years ago, not exactly recent, who cares i love it.

you know what will draw you in to watch this movie? it's a visual feast: lush colors, sensuous images, verdant foliage, flowing waters as the camera zooms in and zooms out, the slow pace which makes everything more intense, somehow more beautiful. pure visual orgasm! you know what will draw you not to watch this movie? lush colors, sensuous images, verdant foliage, flowing waters as the camera zooms it and zooms out, the slow pace which makes everything more intense somehow more beautiful. pure visual orgasm!

there comes a point when you just want to shout enough! i get it! it's a visually beautiful movie, each and every scene is painstakingly beautiful but i want to know more of the story, i want to know how it will end, now!

of course it would be great if the director is around just to suffer my verbal abuse but no such luck. in fact, while i was watching this movie, a never ending almost 24 hour construction was going on. it has been going on since i moved to this apartment, it has been going on years before i moved to this building and i have a reason to believe that it will go on for years and years after i get out of vietnam. it's a curse. it will never end. which is not the case of this movie. it ends just at that time when you start thinking the story is not advancing anymore. sigh of relief. at which time you'd be saying, more than an hour and a half was not wasted, that was an impressive movie. because it is. and its greatness rests on its cinematic style.

it is set during the french colonization of vietnam. the child mui arrives in saigon to work as a servant for a home which could not escape from its grief because of the death of the daughter. the father who has the habit of taking off with the family's money and jewelry was again away when the daughter died. which is why he blames himself for the death of the daughter. the mother grieves for her daughter and when mui arrives, she sees in mui her own daughter. which is why she treats mui as she would her own daughter. the two young boys deals with the grief of their parents in their own way. the grandmother spends her life in front of the family altar praying for the husband who died decades ago. and also there is one older son whose only role is to provide friendship to khuyen who will become an important character later on.

in contrast to this, mui settles in her domestic life as a servant and finds peace in the everyday routine, doing her chores, and in nature. cue shots of birds and leaves and plants and seeds. i have to say, the child actress is portrays this so well. she stares at the white seeds of young papaya, camera zoom in on the papaya seeds, camera zoom out and by god i gobble it up, i stare at her face and i could see it, that innocent happiness.

then ten years later. the father is now gone. the grandmother is gone. one of the son is away being a writer and the other is married. that older son in the story is now gone, but only because he's not relevant anymore. mui who is now a young woman with really great cheek bones remains at the house as the servant. due to financial difficulties, the mother is forced to let mui work at another house. she hands to mui the heirlooms she would have given to to her own daughter. the rest of the movie centers on the developing romance between mui and her new master khuyen, a young, wealthy piano composer. how he became wealthy being a piano composer i do not know. but that's how the story goes. mui still does that staring into everyday inanimate objects and finding happpines bit, however she just looks retarded when she does this.

it was at this point that i started wanting to paint my toes a fuck me red nail polish. yawn. mui with the great cheek bones is such a disappointment. in a movie which is almost silent, in which she has about one or two lines, the only facial expression i saw in is retardedness.

the director's earnestness to be politically neutral is naive. despite the setting being the time of the french colonization in vietnam, there is no criticism of the influences of france on local culture. the father who plays local music with his local house with its local accoutrements leaves the family with all the money and jewelry. on the other hand, khuyen who plays western music on his piano with his affluent house with all the right western touches is portrayed as mui's prince charming. it's these turns that makes me want to snarkily applaud, what a great colonial! (chao, monsieur regisseur!) there is also a feeling of nostalgia in its portrayal of saigon. in an effort to be neutral, the director was betrayed by his lenses.

the scent of green papaya (l'odeur de la papaye verte) 1993
mui At 20: tran nu yen-khe
mui At 10: lu man san
mother: truong thi loc
written and directed By tran anh hung

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