The Scent of Green Papaya (Mùi du du xanh - L'odeur de la papaye verte) Reviews
The parts of this film that are of note is mainly the lack of talking. Dialogue is rather basic and I believe it was the idea of the director to allow the story to take place by the actions of the drama as it unfolded. The actors are not notably over the top emotional except for key spots in the film. What is left is the ambient sounds and backgrounds that help portray and sort of emotion. Perhaps this was intended so the story could be told to an international audience. It would explain the need to cross the language barrier in this way.
As slow moving as the story can be, with its long pans, scene introductions, and the like, it would be difficult to think that having scenes that stay static for any length of time longer than needed would have any effect. However, Hung pulls this off quite well. There are scenes that end in a dead stop. Nothing moves. The scene hangs there for what seems like a second or two longer than it should. However, so does the emotional response to the halt. It is as if Hung is saying, "You should be feeling something here."
Another note about the dead stops is they do not happen during peak moments of storytelling climaxes. They happen in the little subplots. Is this done as an emotional appetizer for the audience?
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.
This Vietnamese tale of manners is served beautifully, with ceremony and decorum, always pleasing the palate ( and the palette ) . Eat this movie !