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The Deserted Valley

An atmospheric tale of tangled passions set at a hillside school in rural Vietnam, "The Deserted Valley" reps a plum buy for ethnic-centered webs, plus a solid title for Asiaphile festivals.

With:
With: Nguyen Hau, Hong Anh, Tuyet Hanh, Thu Trang, Trung Dung, Giang A Phai.

An atmospheric tale of tangled passions set at a hillside school in rural Vietnam, “The Deserted Valley” reps a plum buy for ethnic-centered webs, plus a solid title for Asiaphile festivals. Technically fine production, realistically set in the soggy, mist-shrouded hills of the northwest, is too gentle (like most Vietnamese movies) to make a mark theatrically, but is well played by all its leads.

Tanh (Nguyen Hau) is a kindly janitor at a simple school for one of the country’s ethnic minorities. He’s soft on one of the women teachers, Giao (Hong Anh), to the chagrin of the other, sulky Minh (Tuyet Hanh). One of the pupils, young peasant woman Mi (Thu Trang), falls for Hung (Trung Dung), bathing in a nearby pool; devastated when she finds Giao is his lover, Mi tries to blacken the teacher’s name. Pic is upfront about locals’ take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward education, as well as the wavering conviction of the school’s staff — Tanh, who likes a drink or two, often thinks of packing it in. Melodrama is tightly held in check, replaced by a simmering sexuality that occasionally springs free in surprisingly explicit sequences.

The Deserted Valley

Vietnam

Production: A Vietnam Feature Film Co. production. (International sales: Mirovision, Seoul, South Korea.) Directed by Pham Nhue Giang. Screenplay, Nguyen Quang Lap.

Crew: Camera (color), Ly Thai Dung; editor, Nguyen Viet Nga; music, Luong Ngoc Minh; art director, Nguyen Vu. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (World Cinema), Aug. 31, 2002. Running time: 90 MIN.

With: With: Nguyen Hau, Hong Anh, Tuyet Hanh, Thu Trang, Trung Dung, Giang A Phai.

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