Themes of identity and connection abound in the trailer for Monsoon, released on 25 September.
The film stars Henry Golding as Kit, a British-Vietnamese man who returns to Vietnam for the first time since he was forced to leave at age 8. He now finds himself disconnected from the country, a stranger in his own birthland. Seeking to spread his parents’ ashes, he begins a journey that involves him connecting with a family he has never met, falling for the son of an American soldier (played by Parker Sawyers) and coming to terms with connection to a country that is both familiar and foreign to him.
The film is directed by Hong Khaou, whose directorial debut Lilting was released in 2014 and remains one of my favourite films for its moving characters, dialogue and cinematography. Monsoon seems to offer just as fine an experience; the film looks beautifully shot and ser ro engage with themes of cultural displacement and the need to seeking one’s identity.
It also seems to be a good opportunity to see Golding’s real range as an actor. He’s definitely hit mainstream success in the past two years, particularly with his lead performance in the 2018 films Crazy Rich Asians and A Simple Favour, and has proven his ability to play the romantic lead. But with Monsoon, it’s clear we can expect a subtler and more personal performance than some of his other roles, showing his talent and most likely opening some doors for him down the line.
From an queer perspective, it’s noteworthy that the same-sex romance between Golding and Sawyers is not portrayed as a source of conflict, tension or focus. Unlike Lilting, which blended the themes of sexuality and nationality together, Monsoon’s focus on the theme of cultural heritage is appears to be entirely separate from a typical gay romance narratives, a feat I can’t help but be moved by.
If you’re comfortable going to cinemas in the current climate, Monsoon seems to be worth it—the trailer promises a beautifully told story of characters and connections from a very talented director. Some reviews of the film have already been released and are overwhelmingly positive; Jessica Kiang describes the film in Variety as “a graceful and truthfully irresolute investigation into the strange, often poignantly unreciprocated relationship that many first- and second-generation emigrants have with the far-off foreign country of the past.”
All of this indicates a film that is full of substance and ideas that’ll be a truly moving story to sit through.
Words by Mischa Alexander
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