Winner of numerous awards at various film festivals, “Owl and The Sparrow” superbly directed and written by Stephane Gauger, focuses on an orphaned 10 year old little girl named, Thuy (Pham Thi Han). Submersed rapidly into the heart of Saigon’s street culture after leaving the side of her martinet uncle who owns and runs a bamboo factory, Thuy must be proactive and do what she can in order to survive.
Armed with her Barbie backpack, she encounters other young girls in the city, who instruct her on how best to contend with life on the street. She first sells postcards and with her new comrades she takes to peddling roses, each child equipped with a sob story to secure successful sales.
Thuy, while selling her lot, encounters a lonely zookeeper at the Saigon Zoo- Hai (Le The Lu), who has taken over the family business from his father. The two instantly connect while discussing a baby elephant that is destined to be sold. Both can relate to each others’ station in life currently and a strong rapport has been forged by them. Recently, broken hearted, Hai takes solace in the animals he has grown up with and so carefully and compassionately cares for.
Thuy frequents a soup shop and next comes in contact with yet another lonely soul- a flight attendant named, Lan (Cat Ly), the irresistible charm and sweetness of Thuy, pulls at Lan’s heart strings and she invites Thuy to sleep at her hotel until she is back on call. With two people who young Thuy has encountered now in need for companionship despite their very different ways of viewing the world, she begins to play matchmaker. With love blossoming and ties becoming bonded emotionally; the three grow ever closer together until, Thuy’s uncle re-enters attempting to claim her.
“Owl and The Sparrow”, is a colorful film bursting with constant warmth and emotion. Performances are powerful and engaging. Young Thuy is a delight, precocious with a golden heart. She’s a beautiful spirit that affects everyone she meets and is determined to unite the three of them together, to be enveloped in love.
Cinematically, the film is richly layered with all the sights, sounds and natural elements of Saigon. Much of the hustle and bustle of the street scenes are done hand held which lends itself to an almost firsthand look and feel of being totally immersed in the environment. This adds to the artistry of the film, which is pure poetry.
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Weak: 1 Star Average: 2 Stars Good: 3 Stars Very Good: 4 Stars Excellent: 5 Stars