It is a rare opportunity to choose one’s family, but when young orphan Thuy becomes fed up with her circumstances she creates her own fate in Owl and the Sparrow.
Not satisfied with working at her uncle’s bamboo blind factory, Thuy hits road and river to find her fortune in Saigon. Busy streets swarm with bicycles and peddlers of infinite goods, and the young girl is soon advised by the experienced children of the street. The local triteness of her situation is unnerving, and few blink at her circumstances — except for despondent flight attendant, Lan, who takes Thuy under her broken wing.
The film is presented as a daily countdown towards Lan’s next work cycle away from Saigon — a regular and monotonous schedule that falters when she becomes distressed about Thuy’s predicament. Evenings with Lan are rounded out by days with Hai, a zookeeper who communicates with animals better than he does with people. The three characters defy their troubled pasts to endure each day, each feebly reaching towards a better life. In their concern for Thuy, Lan and Hai become intertwined in her dream for a fairytale ending.
Stephane Gauger returned to his Vietnamese birthplace for his directing debut and has since garnered numerous awards for the effort. Additionally as writer and cinematographer, his independent filmmaking style is simple and direct with an intimate and unadorned viewpoint. Impressively, Gauger captured the emotional heart of the five-day story within only fifteen shooting days.
The music is sparse, the dialogue is gentle and the actors are unaffected. The natural portrayals by Cat Ly (Lan) and The Lu Le (Hai) are absorbing, and Han Thi Pham (Thuy) is alternately precocious and guarded as the independent child. Each fights their natural inclinations — Lan to view the world from the safe distance of a plane, Hai to feel as caged as his animals from unfriendly trespassers and Thuy to assume that adults want to trap her for their benefit — to forge a relationship reliant on hidden strengths.
The pureness of their desires drives a story that unfolds carefully so as not to further damage the packaging, and yet there is power in the telling of these three souls who strive to create a new life and find serenity within the chaos of the city.
1.33GB | 1h 37m | 720×384 | avi