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Monsoon Is Just Not Sensuous Enough
Starring Henry Golding as Kit,Parker Sawyers as Lewis,David Tran as Lee
Directed by Hong Khao
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!