Absolute Josh Hartnett

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Sure, if you single out something like Mùi đu đủ xanh (The Scent of Green Papaya) or Mùa hè chiều thẳng đứng (The Vertical Ray of the Sun) as vapid exotica tailor made for the western festival crowd, you will be served with enough evidence to justify such observations. Yet, beyond the lavish sounds of nature enveloping Tran's impossibly pretty settings, and past the idyllic and transcendental mojo of such small stories lies something much richer, delving into Tran's experiences in his native Vietnam and its tumultuous history. It's not just heightened nostalgia, but also a subtle touch of angst directed at what changed this almost ideal world which defined his youth (or the memories those days left in his mind) - and I don't necessarily mean that in political terms. Thankfully, his gritty Xíchlô (Cyclo) managed to bring such issues to the forefront with enough verve to prove how layered and satisfying the Danang-born, France-based director's films are, but it also confused many more viewers, wondering if it was truly the same director who made a name for himself with his excellent 1993 debut. Inevitably, his fourth film I Come with the Rain will evoke similar feelings, and might indeed generate the most polarized of reactions yet - although Cyclo was met with surprise, it was hardly underappreciated, at least by those who watched it.

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