The Scent of Green Papaya (Mùi du du xanh - L'odeur de la papaye verte) Reviews
The story starts out in 1951 when a 10-year-old girl named Mui arrives at household to be a servant. The family seems nice enough, though, there is a lot of underlying drama between the husband and wife over the husband sometimes leaving and the death of their daughter years earlier, some strife among their three sons, and caring for the husband's aging mother.
The wife immediately takes a liking to Mui, since Mui looks a lot like her deceased daughter, which makes her treat her with a particular kindness. Mui does her duties as she is supposed to, but she seems to fascinated with the world around her, even in the smallest ways like watching ants, smelling cooked food, and observing all sorts of people around her. Everything seems to hold some sort of interest to her as she processes anything and everything, and also seems rather cheerful as well.
Even as the family experiences much strife and hardship, Mui continues her duties as a servant, while still wanting to experience, touch, and see the world around her with her endless fascination.
While the story is simple, it's hard to really nail it down at the same time. It's a very low key and quiet film, one that wants you to look at the world around you, much like its main character as you see through her eyes. It's a story about the beauty of the world, but also the sadness and hardship that comes with it. But it still wants to embrace life and see what it has to offer, while appreciating all the little things we would never really think about looking at.
The acting, while fairly low key, is still brilliant as it requires you to pay attention to all the little details and expressions of the characters to try and understand them. Even the child actors do an incredible job, which is extremely rare as most child actors are awful. They feel alive and you feel along with them, as well as experience their world with them - that's how good they are.
It's a beautiful and artistic film that is visually stunning, but also has a lot of depth that the plot deceptively hides under its simple-sounding exterior. There is a lot of human drama to be found in this film and what it has to say about life and the world around us in even the smallest of ways. It will bore people who aren't patient, but will reward viewers who don't mind a slower pace and more subtle tone to a film.
The Scent Of Green Papaya is a work of absolute brilliance. The story is marvelous, the acting is complex and engaging, the visuals are beautiful, the direction is stunning, and every aspect about it is pure cinematic joy and art. It's a marvel to both watch and experience and I recommend it to people who love a good art house film.
Well worth tracking down, give it a rental at the very least.
The film runs for only 104 minutes, but still it manages to feel slightly tedious, but in a way captivating. Tran Anh Hung directs his script in an interesting way, utilizing beautiful cinematography even in very closed sets while allowing his lead actors to offer quirkily physical performances laced with subtle emotions. This is memorable cinema, even if the whole seems a bit unfocused at times.
You freeze any frame of the movie and you will get a postcard picture. That is how beautiful the cinematography can be. In fact, I think the director is more in love in capturing the prettiest shot than telling a story. Well, according to Uncle Ebert, the story is about the growth of a girl to womanhood. Accepted... but the girl seems to be more of an observer of things happening to people around her.
For me, I like the therapeutic effects it evokes. I can imagine watching this after IRREVERSIBLE and BATTLE ROYALE (two most disturbing movies I've ever seen); it would be like having spa. Come to think about it, it would not be a bad idea to play this film at those spa centres.