Monsoon is an intimate movie that deals with a number of topics. Kit (Henry Goulding) is Vietnamese-born gay man who was raised in the United Kingdom. Stories are rarely a one to one comparison for its audience and this character is especially detailed. Still, by dealing with themes of living between different cultures and ideas, many will find the film relatable.
The story follows Kit on his return to the country he was born in. He and his parents left Vietnam when he was a child and he is returning for the first time. He is the proverbial stranger in a strange land. Monsoon is a quiet movie. It is very much an emotional journey about the main character trying to reconnect with his homeland. There is little in the way of action and the most important moments of the film are built as much on silent glances as they are on powerful monologues. This is demonstrated in a great early scene in which Kit is on a train next to a Vietnamese couple.
Goulding does a magnificent job in the lead role. Ostensibly, the plot is about a displaced person burning the ashes of his parents. Monsoon becomes just as much about that person’s self exploration. Kit never forgets why he has returned to Vietnam, but it also becomes a personal trip. This leads to many reflective moments for him. Goulding is adeptly able to do the emotional heavy lifting.
There is a quiet dignity to Kit as he walks the streets of Ho Chi Minh. Director Hong Khaou frames many shots with Kit reflectively looking in mirrors or out windows. These scenes also do a great job of showcasing a country in flux. Kit is trying to fill in the cultural gaps of a country that has changed greatly since he left as a child. In a sense, he is looking for something that no longer exists. This deepens the divide he feels.
Monsoon is a well acted story that deals with ideas many audiences will be familiar with. Dealing with feelings of displacement for a variety of reasons, the film is a fascinating look at a person trying to find themselves. It is beautifully shot and will resonate emotionally with viewers. The well paced film never forces the issue and allows its plot to run its natural course.
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