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Inside Out 2020 Review: Monsoon

October 7, 2020

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Following the death of his parents, Kit (Henry Golding) returns home to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to find a place to scatter their ashes, and discovers that he barely remembers the country that he was forced to leave as a young boy. Having grown up in London, where his parents fled to following the Vietnam War, Kit only has vague memories of his home country. Through interactions with people that he grew up with, Kit starts to come to terms with his past, as a budding romance with Lewis (Parker Sawyers), a Black American living in Vietnam, helps him find new roots in the country of his birth.

Written and directed by Hong Khaou, who based the story on his own experiences of fleeing from Vietnam to England in the 1980s, Monsoon is a low-key and very well acted character drama that serves as a touching portrait of how painful trauma from the Vietnam War still continues to impact the country several decades later. While it’s completely different in tone, it would actually provide an interesting counterpart to Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, grappling with how the war forever changed both the country’s citizens and those who were brought in to fight it.

Khaou stages several conversations between Kit and the various people he meets in Vietnam that I found very poignant, sensitively exploring themes of identity and trying to find a connection to the place where you were born. Golding, the breakout star of the blockbuster hit Crazy Rich Asians, carries the film with a nicely understated and quietly moving performance. The film also features some excellent framing choices courtesy of cinematographer Benjamin Kracun, including interesting uses of reflective surfaces and several impressive wide shots.

Parker Sawyers and Henry Golding in Monsoon

The 30th annual Inside Out LGBT Film Festival runs from October 1st to 11th, with online screenings available to anyone in Ontario, and some special drive-in presentations in Toronto.

Monsoon is screening online until October 11th, tickets can be purchased right here.

More Inside Out 2020 Reviews: Spiral; I Am Syd StoneCowboysDating AmberJump, DarlingShiva Baby (TIFF 2020)No Ordinary Man (TIFF 2020)Keyboard Fantasies: The Beverly Glenn-Copeland Story (Hot Docs 2020)There’s No Place Like This Place, Anyplace (Hot Docs 2020)The Obituary of Tunde Johnson (TIFF 2019).

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