Set in French Indochina in 1940, Minh Nguyen-vo's debut feature looks at a way of agrarian life that has largely disappeared. To save his family's farm from disaster after annual rains have flooded their land and nearly starved their buffalo, teenage Kim (Le The Lu) leaves his elderly parents to join a cattle drive to verdant mountain pastures. Along the way he survives run-ins with rival herders and strikes up a friendship with a Khmer loner, among other rites of passage; his association with the sinister trail boss eventually sheds light on his own origins. The elegiac tone here isn't set just by nostalgia for a vanished lifestyle: bereavement, lost love, and the ever present floodwaters add poignancy to the elliptical story, whose characters float in and out unbidden, and sometimes unexplained. In Vietnamese with subtitles. 102 min.
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