Never has trauma seemed so exquisite.
darragh o'donoghue | 09/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The plot of 'The Vertical Ray of the Sun' is similar to Edward Yang's last masterpiece 'Yi-Yi (A one and a two)' - the set-piece of a family reunion, with all its connotations of union, connection and continuity, followed by an inexorable unravelling, as marriages are shown to be fragile, women sexually unsatisfied, men spiritually empty, roads not taken rearing into view, self-identity shattered. The treatment, however, couldn't be more different. Yang's austere long-shot long-takes are replaced by a meticulous sensuality - you can feel the summer, the langorous sun, the heavy rains; the ritualistic preparation of, to this viewer, exotic food, of dressing up, or simply washing; the lush vegetation and muddy Vietnamese streets; the play of light, especially reflecting water on solid surfaces, suggesting their instability, the fluidity of certainties; but also the spiritual hidden in the everyday. The emphasis on see-through materials, like raincoats or mosquito nets, give a foetal resonance to a family drama encompassing death and birth, adultery and virginity, the secrets of the past and the uncertainties of the future, all the time celebrating a transcendent present tense. Although a brilliantly acted, humanistic drama, concerned with real people, and genuine joys, comforts and crises, the film's mise-en-scene is so formally exquisite, the actors often seem to be simply a beautiful part of the decor (especially Tran Nu Yen Khe as Lien and Chu Hung as Quoc), evocative shapes and movements made abstract by the dreamy rhythms of the camera."
Leonard E. Sackett | Pasadena, CA USA | 07/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What I loved most about this movie, apart from the wonderful performances, was its shear beauty. Director Anh Hung Tran's use of color has few equals. The film is bathed in various shades of blue and green, with just enough splashes of red and yellow to dazzle you. He also uses sound to great effect, whether it's birds chirping, rain falling, water splashing, or the lovely Vietnamese songs scattered throughout the film (you also get a couple of Lou Reed songs for good measure). While watching this film I had what Spalding Gray would call "a perfect moment" for 2 hours."
Vertical ray of sheer beauty
kuroneko1 | Istanbul Turkey | 06/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After the cold and sharp as knife, but explosive cyclo, the philosopher director returns with vertical ray of the sun.This time like the scent of green papaya, he uses a more laid back story with intense emotions. Film is mainly set in Hanoi the capital city, and tells the story of 3 sisters and their loved ones. Strange family relationships, marriages with hidden problems and secret lovers are issue of the film. This time director uses lots of dialogue to build up the stories unlike his last 2 movies. Thus we can zoom in to the characters deep thoughts without much effort. All these are made with minimal, simple, non pretentious but always brilliant ideas,making easy to understand the lives of the characters.He also uses the philosophic elements more economically this time unlike cyclo.
An interesting point is sex is always there , hiding but never shown directly to the viewer by the director . Vietnam is still one of those countries where issues like sex is taboo and traditional way of life is well preserved. Director chooses to show the things as they are in the country and tries to give the feeling that is shared by his characters.But interestingly, portrayal of flirtious acts of the sister and her brother in morning scenes are indeed set to confuse the viewer as showing how mixed emotions can be.
Most of the actors and actresses are from the last 2 Hung films so we are familiar with their capabilities.When it comes to cinephotography, Tran Anh Hung's films are very hard to beat. In door and out door scenes, lovely colours and well established shots are again the name of the game. Music choices are excellent and fits like a glove especially in morning scenes.
This movie may not be as beautiful as the scent or as explosive as cyclo. But Hung does his best to tell his not too strange story by not falling in to the trap of being boring.
In sum another excellent addition to the director's career.
An excellent watch and an excellent film to own."
Watching a painting come to life
Pharoah S. Wail | Inner Space | 06/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First off, I just want to say that I am reviewing this in terms of the movie itself, not the DVD. I rented it but my place only has it on VHS. I watched it 5 times during one rent and I just have to review it. I don't know what extras the DVD does or does not have, but this movie is magical.This has become one of my favorite movies of all time. I have a feeling that it may be too slow and thoughtful for the majority of the American audience, though. I don't see this as a fault of the movie at all. Only a fault in the bright, flashy dazzle, quick edit after quick edit style of tv, movies, sports, and commercials that Americans are surrounded by 24/7. If the picture isn't jumping around and changing every 1.3 seconds, the average American loses interest. Their (our) loss. Scent Of Green Papaya has been a favorite of mine since I saw it a few years ago, thus when Vertical Ray showed up at the video store I had to rent it. I hate to slight Green Papaya, but now having seen both, this movie is the better of the two.Vertical Ray is absolutely hypnotic. There are shots in this movie that take my breath away. tran nu yen khe (Lien) is so sensual, magnetic, and free in this movie that I can't help but fall for her. I thought I fell for her in Green Papaya, but this movie goes way beyond that one. Her emotional range with just facial expressions, not to mention words, is so alluring. She is so perfectly entrancing. It's a strange thing to say, but just she herself...the way she looks at things, talks, and moves... her face... she is a work of art in and of herself. The camera truly loves her. I really can't explain it. She may be the very definition of grace and sensuality. I don't think there is any lack of movement in this plot or screenplay. There is a lack of explosions, gunfire, and nudity, yes, but that in no way means the movie is missing anything. Also, I didn't see it mentioned in the couple reviews I read, but there is some very funny stuff in this movie! If you don't laugh out loud a few times during this movie then you aren't paying attention!Obviously we are all different, and maybe it's just me, but I think the director of this movie and Green Papaya, tran anh hung, is amazing. There is absolutely no one in American cinema capable of making films like these. Now I need to see Cyclo."