The Sympathizer 2024 / Park Chan-wook and Robert Downey Jr. team up in this riveting satirical spy thriller set at the end of the Vietnam War


After the only war the Americans have lost, American post-Vietnam war portrayals tend to lean as patriotic revenge fantasies or romanticized disillusionment, but rarely do they portray the people caught in between. HBO’s The Sympathizer is an adaptation of the Pulitzer winning novel of the same name, and while it’s mainly an American production, Park Chan-wook and Robert Downey Jr.’s collaboration sticks to the Captain’s perspective, as the unnamed mole protagonist writes his confession years after from a jail in Vietnam. Chan-wook excellently mirrors his approach to Viet Thanh Nguyen’s agile storytelling, shifting time periods and languages the same way the Captain shifts perspectives, though Nguyen’s dry humor sometimes wavers when translated to the screen. Still, it’s certainly a well-crafted, ambitious depiction coming from a unique perspective.

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