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At The Height Of Summer
cast: Nu Yên-Khê, Nguyen Nhu Quynh, Lê Khanh, Ngô Quang Hai

director: Tràn Anh Hung

108 minutes (PG) 2000
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Artificial Eye DVD Region 2 retail
Also available to buy on video

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Gary Couzens
Tràn Anh Hung's third feature is a return to the contemplative style of his first, The Scent Of Green Papaya, after the phantasmagoria of noise and violence of his second, Cyclo. In present day Hanoi, three sisters gather to honour their mother on the anniversary of her death. Although they are all very close to each other, each one has a secret that she hides from the others...
   In this film, plot is minimal. More important is some of the most ravishing imagery you'll see in a long time (to which Artificial Eye's DVD does justice). Many sequences are virtual tone poems in their use of colour and camera movement, not to mention music. This music is as much western as indigenous: following on from the striking use of Radiohead's 'Creep' in Cyclo, we hear tracks from Lou Reed, the Velvet Underground, and Arab Strap. Needless to say, anyone used to western ideas of pacing and storytelling may find this film tediously slow, but if you can adjust to the flow of sound and image, the results are frequently mesmerising.
   The DVD has a widescreen-enhanced picture and the original Vietnamese-language soundtrack in Dolby surround with fixed English subtitles. Disc extras: the trailer, a making-of featurette (26 minutes), a text interview with the director and a filmography.
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