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THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY

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The abandoned product of a union between a G.I. and a Vietnamese girl, Binh is despised in post-war Vietnam for having "the face of the enemy." Spurred by a silly bit of plot device, the grown Binh, in 1990, makes the arduous journey to America, via the smuggled-labor route, in search of his father. There's much human suffering presented, yet Hans Petter Moland's feature never seems to find an emotional foothold. It may be that Damien Nguyen's portrayal of the stoic Binh is too understated, or that Moland bumps his characters through repeated tragedies without ever stopping for reflection while the plot grows increasingly hackneyed. Binh's plight represents real histories, from the damage wreaked on children by war or the trafficking of human labor, but Moland's depiction lacks the keenness of suffering to make us care. In English, and Vietnamese with subtitles. (AH)

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