"A Harrowing, Poetic Survival Story"
What You Need To Know:
THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY is a thoroughly engrossing story. It is a heartbreaking, often harrowing movie that, at the same time, has many poignant, uplifting and morally positive moments. A stronger moral worldview and stronger Christian content would make THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY better, but, as it is, the movie is very good. The movie contains a limited amount of strong foul language, brief violence and some lightly implied sexual immorality when Binh and Tam befriend a prostitute who is also smuggled into America with them. Therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.
(BB, C, P, AC, Acap, Pa, LL, VV, S, N, A, D, M) Strong moral worldview with some positive redemptive, Christian themes and brief content (including positive father/son drama and one man says God can take people to a better place after they die), and pro-American and pro American soldier content in a story about the aftermath of the Vietnam War, including disabled Vietnam veterans purposely give a ride to an illegal immigrant from Vietnam who has an American soldier father, as well as some light anti-Communist elements, possible implied anti-capitalist elements such as illegal immigrants in New York City watch famous "Greed is good" speech by Michael Douglas in WALL STREET, shots of a couple large billboard ads and highly connected family in Communist Vietnam hosts dinner with formally dressed Westerners, and one or two possible references to Buddhism; nine obscenities (including two or three "f" words and one strong profanity; brief violence (but not graphic) such as accident leaves woman apparently dead on floor and bleeding, soldiers shoot man to death with one shot, fighting in one scene, criminal shoots one of his cohorts to death with one shot, people die of fever, and storm at sea; no sex scenes, but implied prostitution, depicted French kiss, mean man touches clothed buttocks of housemaid, and implied prostitutes at pick-up bar where some of them sing; upper male nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, gambling, illegal immigrants smuggled to America and become part of underground slave labor, racism implicitly rebuked, and slavery implicitly rebuked.
THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY is a powerful, often harrowing and sometimes beautiful movie about a young man escaping the communist regime in Vietnam and trying to get to Texas, where his American father may still live. The movie foregoes trying to score obvious political points to poetically portray one man’s journey through the storms, lulls and sunny skies of the human condition.
The movie opens in the rural countryside of Vietnam in the 1990s, where young Binh struggles with the prejudice against the children of American soldiers and Vietnamese women. Binh decides to travel to Saigon to find the mother who abandoned him, and perhaps find a clue to his father’s whereabouts.
In Saigon, Binh’s mother works as a lowly housemaid to a powerful family in a large house, where the son of the mean-spirited matriarch enjoys groping Binh’s mother. Binh’s mother tells him that his father just suddenly disappeared, even though they were married in a Catholic Christian ceremony.
One day, a misunderstanding and an accident leave the matriarch dead and bleeding. Binh and his mother probably will be blamed. So, Binh’s mother gives Binh all her savings and begs him to take her other son, Tam, Binh’s younger brother, to Texas, the state where his white father said he lived.
Thus begins Binh and Tam’s desperate struggle to survive sea pirates smuggling immigrants, storms and sickness at sea, and the harsh realities of immigrant slave labor, in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean and New York City. Along the way, they befriend a pretty Chinese woman, Ling, who sells her body to survive, but helps Binh take care of Tam. Binh falls in love with Ling, but nothing comes of it, and she goes her own way after they are smuggled to New York City. Tragedy and misery seem to follow Binh, but, eventually, Binh learns the surprising reasons behind his father’s disappearance and he discovers at least a small measure of happiness.
THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY is a thoroughly engrossing story, despite its low budget. It is also a heartbreaking, often harrowing, movie that, at the same time, has morally positive moments and a poignant, uplifting ending. Compared to some of the events occurring before it, the ending is perhaps too quiet, and, hence, anti-climactic, but the filmmakers were going after a realistic ending rather than a big dramatic climax. Thus, it could be argued that the quiet ending suits the movie and is perfectly natural. The ending certainly is one of the more poetic endings you’ll see in a movie this year (or any other year for that matter).
A stronger moral worldview and stronger Christian content would make THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY better, but, as it is, the movie is very good. In fact, the story and plot are actually the reverse of Pixar’s animated classic, FINDING NEMO, which is about a father searching for his son, who has suddenly disappeared. Therefore, most discerning, mature moviegoers should find THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY to be a moving, ultimately positive, experience. The movie contains a limited amount of strong foul language, brief violence and some lightly implied sexual immorality when Binh and Tam befriend a prostitute who is also smuggled into America with them (see the CONTENT section above). Consequently, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for mature audiences.