You’d think that after Portrait of a Woman on Fire we wouldn’t need novels or even fiction films anymore. I mean, Celine Shamma was there somehow, and she won it. Anyway, it looks like people still make them. And it turns out that Song Lang proves that there is still room for romance in films.
Lied Lang – CV
Song Lang is a Vietnamese narrative feature film, written and directed by Leon Le, co-author of Minh Ngoc Nguyen and played by Lien Binh Phat and Isaac. Dang (Binh Fat) works in the context of clandestine collections and takes loans from small entrepreneurs and poor families who have received loans at high interest rates. Linh Phung (Isaac) is an interpreter of Kai Luong (Vietnamese opera). When Dung comes to pick up the opera, he and Lin meet, creating a slow friendship.
We are looking for harmony
At the beginning of Song Lang, Dung Thunderbolt introduces himself to the audience as someone who has not yet found the real rhythm of his song. He’s right about that statement. We’ll keep an eye on Dang while he takes care of his daily business. He picks up money from people, or rather, he blackmails them by withdrawing it when he thinks it’s necessary. It’s a miserable life. And yet, in his beautiful work, Binh Fat attracts so much sympathy from us; the sadness that is constantly present behind his eyes makes those who choose the vision understand that he has to communicate desperately.
This connection does come from, but not from where the public expects, let alone from manure. In the first scene, two girls ask Dung about his faith, and he answers that he doesn’t have it. After a few minutes Dang goes to church, but admits that winning the faith will not be his revelation. The sadness behind his eyes only begins to fade when Linh inevitably enters his life and forces him to face both his past and his future. And those eyes, when they shine, they shine positive.
In the second part Song Lang sings. The Mist and Lin are connected for the night, and the film slows down from a casual walk to a very quiet walk, like a night walk next to a lover – that’s what happens. Relative] fast scenes with events and actions make way for quiet or even silent scenes in which the gaze and introspection are sufficient. After all, men say and understand that they have something to say.
This film understands that romance is not always and often a dramatic novel. Romance is active surveillance and, above all, active listening.
Pictures of broken glass
Sight and sound on stage
That doesn’t mean there’s no drama. Kai Luong, which is literally a Vietnamese opera, plays a central role in Song Lang. It’s not only deeply personal for Dang and Lin, it’s also a big part of this film. An important part of the film consists of characters who repeatedly look at the works performed, or even perform them themselves. It would have been easy if it had gotten tiring, but it never did.
One of the reasons for this is music. The music of Song Lang is extraordinary. I’m not very familiar with Kay Luong or Vietnamese music in general, and I have to admit that it took me a minute to get used to it. At first sight the instrumental melodies almost seem angry when you sing; you wonder if that’s what it should sound like. But in the blink of an eye melodies and sounds begin to mix. The sequences of Cai-lung thus give the impression of being in a trance, where we are immersed in a bath of sound with the audience on the screen. These scenes, as well as some very interesting needle drops (Que Sera lid, Sera really got me in the ear), create an extraordinary sound effect.
Another reason why you will never get bored during a Cai-long scene or any other scene is that Bob Nguyen films the daylight of Song Lang live. The film was shot in a 3:2 ratio, which I liked very much as soon as I saw it. I have noticed that films with more irregular proportions tend to focus more on framing. Song Lang, of course. AND COLOR. If the film uses red and green in its colour palette and is not sticky, I have to slowly clap my hands.
Can codas perpetuate the cliché?
Song Lang has an excellent cinematography, hypnotic music, a quiet tempo and very good performance. But when the movie ended and the boy finished it, I went away for a while… to the myth? I still don’t know how I really feel.
I don’t want to ruin anything, but I do want to say that the film dissolves melodramatically out of nowhere and then leaves you on an ambiguous note. I might add it’s not very funny. And it’s not that a film doesn’t deserve to be made, that’s absolutely right, both from the point of view of the motivational characters and from the point of view of intellectual cinematography. But it’s always a cliché that reinforces the story of weird characters and relationships that I’m not sure we need in the current climate.
Song Long – Final remarks
Finally, Song Lang offers a touching fairy tale, even though it is not entirely known. The technique of the film is unusual and Lien Binh Fat gives one of the best performances of the year. Some might find the end a bit cheap, even treacherous. Even though I like him personally, I think the movie makes the most money with him.
If in the future you want to see a romance that takes time and finds comfort in the details and not in the drama, then you know there’s a great option in Leon Le’s first film.
The song Lang will be performed from the 9th. In the virtual cinemas and from October 11th. November in digital format and/or on DVD for loan/purchase.
Follow and B Peterson on Twitter @MovieBabble_ and @bluegreegreycloset
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