Review: ‘Adrift’

This languid, quietly sensual feature lays on the estrogen.

As a portrait of sexual stasis morphing into ecstasy, though at a price, Vietnamese director Bui Thac Chuyen’s “Adrift” works. Radically different from the helmer’s debut, the absurdist land mine tragicomedy “Living in Fear,” this languid, quietly sensual sophomore feature lays on the estrogen as it explores sexual inexperience, frustration and desire in contempo Hanoi from a female p.o.v. Fests have already discovered this item, with returns in specialty ancillary a given.

Slightly older writer Cam (Linh-Dan Pham, “Mr. Nobody”) finds it hard to stomach the newlywed status of her friend Duyen (Do Thi Hai Yen, “The Quiet American”), as she secretly pines for her. Perhaps hoping to possess her by proxy, Cam drives her into the arms of sexual predator Tho (Johnny Tri Nguyen, handsomely one-note), a proposition Duyen is unsure of, even though there’s no heat between the sheets with her inexperienced hubby (Duy Khoa Nguyen). Sketch of the suffocating expectations of Vietnamese society in matters of love, sex and marriage convinces, and the actresses make for an appealing non-couple. The single sex scene impresses with its careful buildup and lack of onscreen flesh. Tech credits are workmanlike.

Adrift

Vietnam

Production

A Feature Film Studio 1 production, in association with Acrobates Films. (International sales: Vietnam Media Corp., Hanoi.) Produced by Dang Tat Binh, Claire Lajoumard. Directed by Bui Thac Chuyen. Screenplay, Phan Dang Di.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Ly Thai Dzung; editor, Julie Beziau; music, Hoang Ngoc Dai; production designer/costume designer, La Quy Tung. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Horizons), Sept. 6, 2009. (Also in Toronto Film Festival -- Contemporary World Cinema; Vancouver, Pusan, London, Hong Kong film festivals.) Original title: Choi voi. Running time: 109 MIN.

With

Do Thi Hai Yen, Linh-Dan Pham, Johnny Tri Nguyen, Duy Khoa Nguyen, Nhu Quynh Nguyen.

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