(out of 5)
Huyen lives in fear of her pregnancy, knowing herself to be unsure of her boyfriend and even less sure of the life she can provide her child. She has determined not to have it, but the process of getting an abortion is difficult in Hanoi, where the procedure costs money and doctors are fussy about how soon it should happen for it to still be considered humane. She gets no help from her roommate, a spinning wheel of romantic attachments who makes his living working the streets dressed as a woman. Huyen tries various methods, some wise and some reckless, to deal with her situation, interrupted throughout by visions and dreams brought on by fear, and physically weakened by a loss of appetite that sees her being able to keep nothing down but soup. Diep Hoang Nguyen’s direction emphasizes powerful visuals, ripe on imagery both surreally beautiful and starkly gritty. Her characters aren’t the most compelling, so the film won’t hit as deep as the atmospheric Asian social realist films you like the most, but it’s not a flimsy experience either.
Directed by Diep Hoang Nguyen
Screenplay by Diep Hoang Nguyen
Cinematography by Quang Minh Pham
Toronto International Film Festival: 2014