Thursday, October 17, 2013

900. Xich Lo/Cyclo (1995)

Running Time: 121 minutes
Directed By: Anh-Hung Tran
Written By: Trung Binh Nguyen, Anh-Hung Tran
Main Cast: Le Van Loc, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Tran Nu Yen-Khe, Nhu Quynh Nguyen, Hoang Phuc Nguyen
Click here to view the trailer


Finally got around to seeing this one last night, after a few weeks of putting it off. It was one that I wanted to see for a while (the picture in THE BOOK is of a boy painted blue being consoled by a crying woman, or so it seemed and always looked interesting to me), however, I started it about a week ago and only made it twenty minutes in before falling asleep, which was enough to make me realize that it wasn't going to as interesting as I'd thought. In the end, it hovered around the mediocre marker.

Honestly, I was sort of confused by the plot, so forgive me if my desperate grasping for a proper synopsis is distracting, as I give it my best shot. The film starts simple, with a cyclo driver - for the unaware (like me, before this film) a cyclo is like a cross between a rickshaw and a bicycle and serves as a taxi in Ho Chi Minh City, in Vietnam, where this film takes place - telling his story. His parents died when he was young and the boy lives with his sisters (one older, one younger) and grandfather. The whole family works to keep money flowing into the household (even the very young sister works a shoeshine girl). The boy rents the cyclo taxi from a woman, whom he pays 5,000 dongs a day and keeps anything over that. When the cyclo is stolen, he is in trouble with the woman that he rents from and she turns him over to a gang leader, who is also a poet, so that he can work off his debt by committing crimes. Unbeknownst to the boy, his older sister begins working for the gang leader as a prostitute. Upon meeting the sister, the gang leader develops feelings for her, which he keeps to himself. The gang leader also requires (from what I understood) that clients "hooking up" with the sister not physically touch her. That's about the gist of it...

What we have here is a case of a really fantastic outline of a film, being marred with the director's need to explore his artistic side and the result is a film that leaves the viewer a bit bored while the filmmaker meanders around, trying to be poetic and unique. The general premise does call for a heap of artistry and poetry, but it gets laid on way too thick and the basic exploration of the story is abandoned and never really allowed to flourish. I didn't hate it or anything, but it did leave a funny taste in my mouth and I was fighting back the urge to doze off throughout the duration of the picture. I will give brownie points, however, for the film's inclusion of the song "Creep" by Radiohead - a perfect fit and one of the best scenes in the film is when it plays (check out the trailer if you're unfamiliar with the song).

I really don't know what else to say about the film. I liked the general outline of the story. You had this brother and sister being led down the forbidden path - one involved in criminal acts, the other in prostitution and the one man who is leading them hand in hand down this path, while also falling in love for his employee in the prostitution racket. Tony Leung Chiu Wai is great as the gangster, in an almost dialogue-less performance, which always fascinates me. It's hard enough conveying these emotions with the use of words, let alone sticking strictly to body language and facials. On the other hand, the film left me wanting a WHOLE lot more and I'm afraid I was more bored than mesmerized. However, there were a handful of images and moments that will undoubtedly stick in my mind and continuous thought about any one movie in particular only bodes well for a future viewing, but for now...

RATING: 5/10 it an average flick and that's me being just a tad generous, as it actually probably lingers closer to a '4.5'.


October 17, 2013  6:29pm

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