Three Seasons

  • 1999
  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • Drama

Winner of the Sundance Jury Prize and Audience Award, writer/director Tony Bui's debut is also the first American movie filmed in Vietman with Vietnamese actors. Who can fault him for exoticizing the country he left as a young boy when his film offers such luminous evidence that it's a stunning and heterogeneous place, ripe with thousands of compelling...read more

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Reviewed by Sandra Contreras
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Winner of the Sundance Jury Prize and Audience Award, writer/director Tony Bui's debut is also the first American movie filmed in Vietman with Vietnamese actors. Who can fault him for exoticizing the country he left as a young boy when his film offers

such luminous evidence that it's a stunning and heterogeneous place, ripe with thousands of compelling stories? But sometimes Bui's own film feels like the hothouse product he implicitly criticizes when he compares natural lotus flowers and the plastic imitations people seem to prefer. The four

stories Bui tangentially (and perhaps a bit whimsically) interrelates are set mostly in dusty Saigon, where there's scant evidence of decades of Communist rule. Instead, we meet an American war veteran (Harvey Keitel) searching for his daughter; Hai (Don Duong); a cyclo driver infatuated with a

fresh-faced prostitute (Zoe Bui); a street kid (Nguyen Huu Duoc) looking for his stolen case of cheap watches and cigarette lighters; and a lotus picker (Nguyen Ngoc Hiep) in whom an ailing, leprous poet (Tran Mahh Cuong) finds his muse. That Bui's formalist approach to visuals and poetic handling

of mood aren't the norm for ambitious young American filmmakers makes it that much more unfortunate that his would-be lyrical storytelling largely falls flat. The chasm between Bui's classical aspirations and his ham-strung story-telling is exacerbated by the film's leisurely -- or some might say

soporific -- pacing. For all the potentially heart-tugging moments Bui sets up, it's fairly easy to remain emotionally removed, though cinematographer Lisa Rinzler deserves accolades for her striking work in the lotus picking scenes. After all the various stories have been neatly and picturesquely

resolved, you have to wonder whether there was any real purpose driving all those pretty pictures. Sill, Bui's sensitivity and attentiveness mark him as a director to watch.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: Winner of the Sundance Jury Prize and Audience Award, writer/director Tony Bui's debut is also the first American movie filmed in Vietman with Vietnamese actors. Who can fault him for exoticizing the country he left as a young boy when his film offers suc… (more)

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