Yesterday I had lunch at Basilico, my favorite Italian restaurant in Saigon.
Over my Pesto Linguini I noticed Dustin Nguyen across the room. I had to say Hello.
Dustin Nguyen, www.dustintringuyen.com is an American/Vietnamese actor and producer.From California. Now living and working in Vietnam. An accomplished martial arts aficionado with a handshake to prove it! His deep voice rang with enthusiasm for my feedback on his most difficult and successful performance in the movie, “Floating Lives”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGcHzXfaSIY Floating Lives depicted the hardships and conflicted moments in the life of a duck farmer living on a boat on the delta of the famous Mekong River in southern Vietnam. The father in the movie is raising his children alone. A son of 10 years old and a teenage daughter. Their mother had left them for an easier life.
The family becomes embroiled in the life of an unfortunate prostitute who flees the hands of a destructive pimp. She lands on their boat. They save her. But she is the flame that ignites trouble in their lives in a myriad ways.
Finally her searchers discover her…and the ducks secreted by the father in small inlets away from harm by the health police who are determined to destroy the flock believing them to perhaps be infected with the Bird Flu.
In the end the young daughter who loves the ducks and tries to hide them away is discovered also and in her refusal to cooperate with the authorities she becomes a target . And is raped for punishment.
In the end the movie follows the changes in the family as father returns to the land and tries to earn a living to support his son and daughter who is now pregnant with her child of rape.
Disturbing and thoughtful, the movie steers us through our own emotions as we fight to find the solutions we would consider. But we know the complexities of loyalty and responsibility and honor run in a hundred directions and we are left with a conflicted nostalgia for all the deep bittersweet and heartrending moments we all have faced and resolved in our own best ways.
When I complimented Dustin on his depth of performance in projecting the taciturn father he was clearly grateful with profuse thanks and a reply of his own belying his own interior responses to the “heavy content” of Floating Lives…not meant for “mass consumption”.
I agree. But wish more of us could face the screen to review this epic story of all our lives in one form or another.
It was a good day. I’m grateful to met someone who has been a part of touching me with my own inner responses to Floating Lives.