Charting a woman’s downfall after she commits adultery to continue the family bloodline, “In the Name of Love” starts off provocatively, with a scene echoing “The Scarlet Letter,” and looks set to be a broodingly sexy yarn of Jacobean excess. But halfway through, all logic crumbles in helmer Luu Huynh’s crude screenplay, and the pic turns into a ridiculously theatrical variation on “Fatal Attraction,” with the genders reversed. One of a recent batch of artsy, vaguely erotic fest-bound films from Vietnam, the pic may be marketable exotica for very niche ancillary.To satisfy her infertile husband, Khanh (Huy Khanh), who yearns for a child, Lua (Dinh Y. Nhung) asks lottery vendor Linh (Thai Hoa) to impregnate her. Predictably, Linh grows attached to the baby, and also stalks Lua for regular sex. Helmer Luu strikes the same blunt, soapy notes to reinforce Linh as a devilish figure, using distorted camera angles that only accentuate Thai’s overacting. The picturesque mise-en-scene of a tranquil lakeside fishing community fades into insignificance as the action hijacks the drama and characters.
A Vietnam Media Corp. release of a Vi-Phim presentation and production. (International sales: Vietnam Media Corp, Hanoi.) Produced by Luu Huynh, Phan Minh Man. Executive producer, Phan Minh Hoang. Co-producers, Kim Thoa, Huynh Van Phi. Directed, written, edited by Luu Huynh.
Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Tien Vang, Luu; music, Duc Tri; production designer, Nguyen Dinh Phong; art director, Trong Nghia; set decorators, Le Van Cong, Tran Xuan Thanh, Nguyen Van Luom; costume designer, Que Thanh; sound (Dolby Digital), Ngoc Trung; re-recording mixer, Sergey Groshev; visual effects supervisors, Nguyen Huu Tu, Pham Chi Sy; line producer, Luu Minh Chien; assistant director, Nguyen Duy Linh. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 8, 2012. Running time: 115 MIN.
Thai Hoa, Dinh Y. Nhung, Huy Khanh, Huu Thach, Hong Thy, Be Nguyen Tang Thiem Nam. (Vietnamese dialogue)