Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Late Night Papaya

I was lying in bed the other night and failing dismally at falling to sleep. It was 2am and figured I may as well utilise my time better than just staring at the patterns on my bedroom ceiling made my the moonlight peeking through the blinds. I got up, grabbed a blanket, walked downstairs and put on The Scent of Green Papaya, a DVD that I had had sitting there for several days, but hadn't had the chance to watch yet. From what I had read it sounded like perfect insomnia medication, a slow-moving Asian drama where not much happens. Turns out that while that description is correct, its high quality is anything but dreary.

Directed by Anh Hung Tran, whose Norwegian Wood will be screening at the upcoming MIFF on the heels of major online buzz, this 1993 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film is truly marvellous. A sumptuously realised movie with gorgeous cinematography by Benoît Delhomme, it is quietly meditative movie that... well, I'm not entirely sure what it's about, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It's a shame that the final act, which jumps ahead ten years and swaps out the charming child actress Man San Lu (still her only performance) as Mui for Trân Nu Yên-Khê, who doesn't do much other than stare and look pretty. Still, I loved watching this film with its stunning green colour scheme and its wonderful lived in textures. Plus bonus points for the brief repeating use of "food porn". Watching the delicious Vietnamese food being prepared, cooked and eaten made me hungry for a 3am snack, I can guarantee you that! A-

1 comment:

Anthony Mai said...

I'm Vietnamese, but haven't watched this film. I don't use the word papaya, but pawpaw!

I'm very surprised that a Viet film was nominated for Best Foreign Language film. Vietnamese cinema hardly get any international exposure.

I watched the trailer of the film and does look interesting. But watching a Vietnamese film is interesting for me sometimes because I watch it as a western film goer, yet see all the flaws that only Vietnamese people can notice.