The Vertical Ray of the Sun 2000 / A nostalgic and languid summer afternoon in an Eden-like Hanoi that hides some underlying turbulent desires


What strikes most people about The Vertical Ray of the Sun is how idyllic Tran Anh Hung captures Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital– lush greens, the summer sunshine softened by mosquito nets, scored by the birds and the neighborhood kids and a mix of early 00s soft rock and traditional Vietnamese songs. These visuals are so beautiful that it distracts from fairly turbulent conflicts in the three relationships present in the film, the unfulfilled desires they feel, some totally forbidden, some stemming from past generations, which makes the PG rating all the more surprising. But even as the drama unfolds, the feeling of a languid summer afternoon never fades, painting the melodramatic troubles under a peaceful veneer, made subtle and humorous with the way the sisters joke, make innuendoes, and decide on family matters together.

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