Monsoon Is Just Not Sensuous Enough

Monsoon(Amazon Prime)

Starring Henry Golding as Kit,Parker Sawyers as Lewis,David Tran as Lee

Directed  by  Hong Khao

Rating: **

In no time  at all, Henry Golding of Crazy Rich Asians fame ,   has  become  the  biggest global star  of Asian  origin since Jackie Chan.And  no wonder. He is charming and  camera-friendly  even in  a silly  fluffy  film like Last Christmas.

Monsoon was being  much talked-about for  Golding playing a  gay character. But after seeing the  film I saw no scriptural  significance in his sexual preference. I  couldn’t less about his sexual  orientation.The film’s cold detached   attitude to its protagonist is distracting .  Based  apparently  on  the  director’s  own  experiences the  film shows Kit(Golding) a Britisher  of Vietnamese origin,  returning to his  roots with his  mother’s ashes.

 The  story of Golding discovering his roots and finding his bearings ought to be an emotionally  charged, moving and  liberating experience   for us. Instead  it  is just a dull selfindulgent journey where  Kit comes across as a young man so  confused about his  cultural  identity that his sexual identity is just  not a matter of any urgency to him or to us.

The short  and alas not-so-sweet film has been shot in Saigon  and Hanoi. The director  makes a strong visual impact capturing Saigon  in aerial shot where cars  cycles and   commuters  create an ant-like  sense  of distance . Golding wandering on the  crowded streets  of  what was once his  home  blends  into the  local climate  with  commendable  fluency. I also liked the way he  connects  with a family he knew as a child before fleeing the country with his parents when the  civil war broke  out.

Lee(David Tran) whom Kit was  friends with during childhood fears that  Kit has returned  to collect the money Kit’s mother had loaned  to Lee’s mother. The situation creates a stiffness between the two men which the director is far better able to put across than the two clumsy  love-making scenes where Golding is shown getting intimate with two different men, although he is in a committed relationship  with one  of them.

 Incidentally  the same-sex lovemaking was shot far more effectively on Zoya Akhtar’s  Made In Heaven. Here,  Golding looks painfully awkward and selfconscious. As if he’s in this for the critical acclaim.Like I said  the entire  homosexual track is unnecessary. I wanted to know more about Kit’s responses to what once was his home, his turbulent emotions at  being confronted by his roots. All we see is a impassive man roaming the streets  of  Vietnam.

Disappointing and  worse, dull!

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