Review: ‘The Season of Guavas’

Beautifully shot but flawed by inconsistencies of style, Dang Nhat Minh's "The Season of Guavas" indirectly surveys 30 years of Vietnamese history through the yarn of a well-meaning man still emotionally attached to the family home long ago requisitioned by the state. Delicately drawn, but sometimes stiffly acted by some of the adult cast, pic could have a moderate career on specialized Eurowebs.

Beautifully shot but flawed by inconsistencies of style, Dang Nhat Minh’s “The Season of Guavas” indirectly surveys 30 years of Vietnamese history through the yarn of a well-meaning man still emotionally attached to the family home long ago requisitioned by the state. Delicately drawn, but sometimes stiffly acted by some of the adult cast, pic could have a moderate career on specialized Eurowebs.

Dang has had a solid career the past 20 years (“When the Tenth Month Comes,” “The Girl on the River,” “The Return”), without making a truly distinguished movie. “Guavas” centers on Hoa (Bui Bai Binh), rendered slightly simple by a fall in his youth and cared for by his sister (Nguyen Lan Huong), and who’s allowed to stay in his former home by a kindly young student (Pham Thu Thuy). When her father chucks him out, a pretty peasant girl (Le Thi Huong Thao) comes to his rescue. Bui is fine in the lead role, without overplaying, and Pham equally so among the younger cast. Post-production, done in France, is excellent, with sharp, clear color that enhances pic’s genuinely tender moments.

The Season of Guavas

Vietnam

Production

A Youth Studio production, in association with Les Films d'Ici, with participation of Ministry of Culture & Tourism (Vietnam) and Vietnam Cinema Office. (International sales: Les Films d'Ici, Paris.) Produced by Dang Nhat Minh, Nguyen Thuy Vinh.

Crew

Directed, written by Dang Nhat Minh, based on his novel "The Old Home." Camera (color), Vu Duc Tung; editors, Tran Anh Hoa, Nguyen Viet Nga; music, Dang Huu Phuc; art director, Pham Quoc Trung. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (competing), Aug. 10, 2000. Original title: Mua oi. Running time: 104 MIN.

With

With: Bui Bai Binh, Nguyen Lan Huong, Pham Thu Thuy, Le Thi Huong Thao, Huong Thao, Hua Do, Pham Khac Lam.
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