Pearls of the Far East – 7 Women, 1 Story

By Seavor Wong

I had the pleasure of going to a screening of Pearls of the Far East and this film nearly brought tears to my eyes. Pearls of the Far East is a Vietnamese film that is divided up into seven separate chapters based on seven short stories from Vietnam. Getting back to the film itself, it was very touching. The acting was superb.

Director Cuong Ngo constructs the film with seven chapters, having joy and grief being one of them. The development of the film starts with the story of a young girl’s blissful days with a servant boy and ends with the story of an aging actress named Kieu, who reminisces her past as an actress. The seven stories are connected through the women’s shared struggle with love, desire, passion, and sexuality.

There isn’t a whole lot of dialogue in this film. Instead, the environment, the music, the actions and movements of the characters in the film become the main focus. That’s just as good because they compensate for the lack of dialogue in the film. The quietness that is in this movie actually enhances the beauty of this film. The whole film takes place inside Vietnam, but there are places that I never actually fathomed that would be in Vietnam. At least two chapters take place in an area of Vietnam that looks like the Hamptons or any other high-class residential area, which was very surprising. Pearls of the Far East definitely shatters any preconceptions one may have on Vietnam.

Vietnam is a diverse and beautiful place from the farms to the rich area. I would go as far to say that the places in the film look like prime vacation spots. In terms of the inner workings of the film, love takes center stage here as the main theme because every chapter involves love between a character and either a concept such as art, an inanimate object, or love between two human characters. In addition to this, I feel that age needs not be a factor. The sensuality that is in this movie is tasteful. Unlike today’s movie, which objectifies a woman’s body with gratuitous nudity, I had no problem with revealing some skin here since they managed to make it look very classy.

The characters are shown to have plenty of regrets involving love and their emotions which are really palpable. It’s very noticeable and it drives the whole film. With a director such as Cuong Ngo who recently graduated from film school making a beautiful film such as this, I think film cinema need not fear anything because the art of making movies itself is alive and well. That goes double with these awesome actors who were in this film. I want to shout out to everyone who took a chance with a relatively unknown director in making this phenomenal movie. I wouldn’t mind seeing a future film by Cuong Ngo, he has shown that he understands what films need, that special ingredient to tug emotions and make it relatable to viewers like myself. Pearls of the Far East is a fine example of art. I most certainly recommend going out and seeing this film.

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