Reconnecting with your childhood home is an emotionally turbulent experience, but all of these feelings within Hong Khaou’s Monsoon are expressed in moments of profound quiet. The first half-hour of the film is free of any meaningful dialogue. The audience is left to witness Kit (Henry Golding) wander around Ho Chi Minh City, parsing through memories, and memories of other people’s memories.

Khaou uses simple but clever visual cues to capture Kit’s sense of displacement. We see him cocooned in his darkened apartment surveying the sprawling city skyline. We seem him stoically stationed on street corners observing the chaos of a busy intersection. He is insulated from the commotion of the outside world, quietly wading through the noise of a bustling city.

Over the course of the film, we see Kit growing accustomed to the world around him; his uncertainty shifts into confidence. This evolution is most effectively captured through Khaou’s careful direction: moments where Kit is caught among the hubbub rather than removed from it.

Occasionally the film forces it, pushing conversations onto characters that thrust the emotional narrative forward but fit uncomfortably in Kit’s gentle world. In a movie so concerned with unspoken understanding and the intangibility of memory, important conversations are frequently laboured and obvious.

That being said, Golding is terrific. There is an openness to the way he lovingly gazes at the Ho Chi Minh City skyline, a dejectedness to the way he hunches his shoulders as he looks at monuments to his childhood. His physicality speaks to the joy and pain found in revisiting something you can recall but not remember in full.

Monsoon is a heart-wrenching story about belonging. While the dialogue is sometimes artificial, the moments of quiet reflection are overflowing with meaningful emotion.



CAST: Henry Golding, Parker Sawyers, David Tran, Molly Harris

DIRECTOR: Hong Khaou

WRITER: Hong Khaou

SYNOPSIS: Kit fled Vietnam at the age of eight. He returns 30 years later to scatter his parents’ ashes.