films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


Norwegian Wood

Noruwei no Mori
2010 / 133m - Japan
Romance, Drama
Norwegian Wood poster

It's beautifully shot, wonderfully scored, and sporting some great performances. It ranks well in just about every department, aptly showcasing the progress Tran has made as a director.


2016 / 115m - France
Eternity poster

Tran Anh Hung's latest film shows life as an endless string of births and deaths. It's a unique family chronicle that spans multiple generations, jumping between moods and characters without forming a clear narrative. It's really one of those films that you just have to see for yourself.

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The film starts with Valentine and her marriage with Jules. From there on out, it's just an enumeration of children, marriages and deaths. There's virtually no dialogue, a voice-over gives us the necessary details and Hung serves us short scenes of all the key moments in this long lineage of people.

It sounds incredibly dull and for some people it will no doubt be, but it's certainly not as dry as it sounds. The cinematography is lush, the soundtrack soothing and Hung still has an eye for small gestures and expression that are more pronounced than any dialogue ever could be. It's really a very poetic, symphonic film, people wanting a more narrative experience should probably look elsewhere.

I Come with the Rain

Je Viens avec la Pluie
2008 / 114m - France
I Come with the Rain poster

I feel for Tran Ahn Hung (Norwegian Wood). I Come with the Rain was meant to be his international break-through. An ambitious Pan-Asian production (featuring Hollywood star Josh Hartnett in one of the lead roles) that should've landed him a sizeable audience. But the film disappeared off the radar completely. Production problems, with Tran eventually distancing himself from the final cut damned the film to a lackluster DVD release, only picked up by Tran's most hardcore fans. To make things worse, the film is quite the departure of Tran's earlier work, so even they didn't like what they saw.

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Though production-wise I Come with the Rain was a complete disaster, the film itself is actually quite good. It's perfect material for a cult revival, though its relative obscurity and the apparent lack of incentive to pick it up (Tran's popularity has waned the past couple of years) will probably prevent that from happening. If you're not a zany Tran adept though and you're looking for something peculiar to watch, I Come with the Rain is actually a pretty safe bet. It's not without faults, but its perks more than make up for them.

The cast alone should merit some extra interest. There's Hartnett and Koteas drawing in the Hollywood crowd, but Tran also went actor-shopping in several high-profile Asian countries. Takuya Kimura, Byung-Hun Lee, Shawn Yue and Tran Nu Yen-Khe make for a nice international ensemble. You have to put up with some stilted English dialogues because of that, but the language barrier makes sense, seeing that most of the actors are from different countries anyway.

The story revolves around a private detective (Hartnett) trying to find Shitao (Kimura), the son of a wealthy businessman. The film is split in two, one part focusing on Hartnett's past and the other focusing on Shitao's adventures. For a Tran film, things get pretty weird and intense, with Kimura portraying some kind of Jesus figure who can take away the pain of others and Hartnett having to deal with a human body parts sculptor.

Visually Tran put his mark on the film, with dreamy visuals and nice camera work. The soundtrack is less pleasing, but that's probably because I'm not much of a post-rock fan. Featuring bands like Radiohead and Silver Mt. Zion is not a plus in my book, even then the soundtrack could've benefit from a more subtle approach.

I Come with the Rain may be a tough sell if you want to market it to a broader audience, but there's a very unique and mysterious vibe that should appeal to people looking for something different. From the crazy sculptures (not unlike the artwork of Rubber Johnny artwork) to the interesting cast and challenging story structure, there's enough here to warrant 2 hours of your time.


Xích Lô
1995 / 123m - Vietnam
Crime, Drama
Cyclo poster

The Scent of Green Papaya

Mùi Du Du Xanh
1993 / 104m - Vietnam
Drama, Romance
The Scent of Green Papaya poster