Watch Monsoon (2020) | Synopsis and Review

 This is the second feature film directed by British director, Hong Khaou, after previously releasing Lilting (2014), Monsoon tells the story of a British man, Kit (Henry Golding), who returns to visit his home country of Vietnam. Aiming to spread the ashes of his parents, the visit was Kit's first visit after his parents brought him and his brother out of Vietnam to escape the dangers of the war that was raging there. Of course, 30 years after his departure, Kit is no longer familiar with the situation in Vietnam nor is he able to speak his mother tongue. Luckily, with the help of his childhood best friend, Lee (David Tran), Kit is able to embark on a journey from Saigon to Hanoi to find the right burial location for his parents and at the same time rediscover traces of his past in Vietnam.


There is a similarity (read: intersection) in the theme of the story between Monsoon and Lilting, which became Khaou's feature film directorial debut. If Lilting tells the story of two characters from two different cultural backgrounds who try to understand each other on the basis of the shared grief they have, then Monsoon wants to show a character who tries to understand and digest the culture where he comes from which seems to have disappeared due to being forced to live in a place with a different cultural background. Khaou slowly builds the construction of the film's story, allowing the main character to reveal layers of his personality one by one, and allowing conflicts from the past and present of the main character to come and color the film's storyline.

Monsoon may have a fairly simple impression and appearance. However, Khaou's story script also tries to discuss many conflicts that feel quite complicated throughout the 85-minute storytelling journey. In addition to talking about trying to dig up the story of the family's past, Monsoon also added a twist to the romance that happened to the main character with a man, Lewis (Parker Sawyers), whom he met, as well as a bit about the history of Vietnam as a country. With a deeper exploration of the story, Monsoon can be transformed into a drama that is thick with dialogue but stands out with a strong meaning and impression. Khaou's presentation, unfortunately, only touches the top layer of the story's themes, presenting and flowing it just like that without ever really giving it a more straightforward story space.

The main character's journey to open the pages of his family's past appears halting, the romance that exists between the characters Kit and Lewis is cold and never convincing, while conversations about Vietnam (and its dark history of war) are more often used as a promotional event for tourists. various places in the country without ever making it feel more meaningful. The directing technique that Khaou provides for the film itself never feels completely effective either. The impression of silence that Khaou wants to emphasize more often ends up being awkward due to the character writing and shallow dialogue. The slow rhythm that was chosen to roll out the Monsoon storyline also ended up as a boring impression.

What worsened the quality of Monsoon's appearance was Golding's completely stiff appearance. For some reason, in every scene, Golding seems unable to fully animate the character he plays so that he can only appear with a makeshift acting range in every situation. This also makes the chemistry between him and Sawyers feel so flat – if you don't want to call it a … well… with no chemistry at all. The acting performance presented by Golding is indeed not an acting performance that is of very bad value. However, considering that the character he plays is the central character who becomes the focus of the story's attention when compared to other supporting characters who are present around his character, Golding's appearance clearly plays a crucial role for the overall quality of Monsoon. And Golding was not able to carry out his duties properly.

Monsoon (2020)

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