At The Height Of Summer

At The Height Of Summer

***1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Essentially an ensemble piece surrounding three sisters and a brother in Vietnam, Tran Anh Hung has created a beautiful looking film. For those who saw The Scent Of Green Papaya, this will come as no surprise.

Time and place is a little ambiguous. The family appears middle-class, living in attractive apartments, where the colours are warm and the flowers opulent. Lou Reed plays on the music centre. Elaborate meals are prepared, with style and artistry. The women are ravishing, the men intelligent and sensitive. Is this Hanoi in the 21st century?

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Although close, the sisters have desires and secrets they do not share. An air of sensuality envelopes everything they do, whether it is exercising in the morning or preparing a chicken. Their sex lives are a little more complicated. The youngest, for example, shares a flat with her brother and occasionally his bed, although he does not encourage this, because, more often than not, he ends up on the floor.

They tend to sleep in the afternoon and smoke, celebrating the death of their parents, as a joyous ritual, while accepting, with a smile, the irony that during their lifetime birthdays were generally forgotten. The pace is unhurried, the shocks cushioned by good manner.

As an antidote to Californian neurosis, this is a balm - no politics, no talk of the war, no poverty.

Reviewed on: 21 Sep 2001
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At The Height Of Summer packshot
Close-knit Vietnamese family exposes secrets of an emotional/sexual nature.
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Director: Tran Anh Hung

Writer: Tran Anh Hung

Starring: Tran Nu Yen Khe, Le Khanh, Chu Hung

Year: 2000

Runtime: 112 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: France/Germany/Vietnam

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