BRIDE OF SILENCE (Minh Phuong Doan, Thanh Nghia Doan). 114 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (July 6) at the Royal. Rating: NNN
The title character in Bride Of Silence is a defiant, fiercely independent woman living in rural Vietnam in the 1800s. Or is she?
This enigmatic, languorously drawn-out movie employs a Rashomon-like narrative device that toys with point of view and leaves you ooo-ing with pleasure at the gorgeous visuals while scratching your head over the confusing flashbacks.
Pensive young man Hien ( Truong Huu Quy ) learns from his dying foster dad about his mom, who bore him out of wedlock and was disowned by her family and cast out of her village. But the dad dies before he finishes the story, so Hien embarks on a long journey to hear other variations on the tale of his mysterious birth and his more mysterious mother.
Of course, the stories conflict, telling us more about the teller than anything else.
Directors Minh Phuong Doan and Thanh Nghia Doan have cast the film well. The stunning Truong Ngoc Anh is especially touching as the sensuous young mother who takes on her village's patriarchal establishment. And the centuries-old Vietnamese villages are so gorgeously rendered you'll be blinking in disbelief when you encounter the city streets after leaving the theatre.
There's ambience galore, which makes the poorly set-up flashbacks a shame.
When you're wondering, "Is this a monk or the dad?" it kinda breaks the spell.