American Experience (2004) - Rotten Tomatoes

American Experience (2004)

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Critic Consensus: An emotionally wrenching portrayal of a family reunion that doesn't turn out as expected.

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Movie Info

As the United States began to withdraw from Vietnam, many Vietnamese women who'd borne children fathered by American servicemen feared for the safety of their offspring, as many Vietcong were extremely prejudiced against people of mixed racial heritage. In 1975, an organization called Operation Babylift was created to help mothers in Vietnam find adoptive parents for their children the United States, and Mai Thi Hiep, one such child, found herself relocated to Tennessee at the age of seven. Mai Thi Hiep was given the new name Heidi Bub, and encouraged by her new mother to turn her back on the life and culture she had left behind. Bub easily assimilated into American life, but by the time she had entered college, she had a severe falling out with her adopted mother and decided to renew contact with Mai Thi Kim, the mother she had left behind. Bub had hoped to find the love and acceptance that her adopted mother was unable to give her, but after traveling to Danang to visit Kim and her family,Bub discovered this would be neither simple or easy to arrange -- Bub soon discovered just how different she and her mother had grown to be, Kim's husband bluntly (though without malice) points out that Heidi was the product of his wife's infidelity while he was fighting in the war, and one of Bub's half-siblings asks what their relatively prosperous American relative intends to do to support the family financially. A provocative look at the unexpected consequences of both war and family, Daughter From Danang is a documentary that follows Heidi Bub's journey to Vietnam, and what she found there. Daughter From Danang was awarded the Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.

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Critic Reviews for American Experience

All Critics (76) | Top Critics (35)

Stands as a powerful record of a truly historic event in the annals of rap.

December 10, 2004 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

This doesn't stand with the great hip-hop documentaries.

December 3, 2004 | Rating: 3/5

I'm more familiar with Jersey than with Jay-Z, but I found it difficult to watch this concert (shot in 2003) without gaining some appreciation for the rapper's rapid-fire verbal acrobatics.

December 3, 2004 | Rating: B

A concert film that captures last year's Garden party along with well-orchestrated, if not especially revealing, behind-the-scenes footage.

November 12, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

A spectacular concert documentary that also gives some fascinating insights into the making of 'The Black Album.'

November 5, 2004 | Full Review…

Against a vibrant, well-lit backdrop, he performs his biggest hits with an intensity and clarity that should allow even the uninitiated to appreciate the lyrical dexterity which makes him the genre's dean, the first rapper profiled on 60 Minutes.

November 5, 2004 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for American Experience

½

An Amer-Asian woman travels to Vietnam to meet her long-lost mother. Aside from a few forays into a discussion of cultural and racial differences -- the Vietnamese family's request for money and the Tennessee family's racism -- there is no discernible difference between this documentary and an episode of Maury Povich. It has all the melodrama of daytime talk with very little of the thematic sophistication one might expect from film, especially a film that won at Sundance. Also, I found all the characters unlikable. Heidi lacked any characteristic aside from a plastic smile, and the family was all jubilation. And when the Vietnamese family "turned on" Heidi, I failed to sympathize with either party. Overall, Maury is the same but shorter, so watch it instead; just make sure you don't get a paternity episode instead of a reunion episode.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

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