The Beautiful Country 2004 Movie Scene Damien Nguyen as Binh at the beach with the rest of the refugees running in the background

The Beautiful Country [2004]

Not only visually impressive but also very emotional, The Beautiful Country is one of the most underrated movies I’ve ever seen. It’s surprising to learn that the issue of the Vietnam war is still so polarizing after all these years. All these years and everything we learned about it. However, I do not want to get into all that and you don’t have to either to enjoy this magnificent movie. Life-changing may be a bit too much, but life-shaking is definitely on the spot. It highlights the universal nature of injustice and tribal structure that we’re still deeply following. In doing so, it touches upon many issues plaguing our society today. However, there’s an air of resilience and hope amidst all this and that’s what makes it a bit easier to watch.

The Beautiful Country is a movie about a personal journey and as such it transcends the concepts of countries and languages. Directed by a Norwegian director and starring actors from all over the world, it’s an international effort. And it does feel Scandinavian, like In A Better World or something like that. It also reminded me of The Rocket, an Australian drama set in neighboring Laos. I know it sounds like a cliché but I always wanted to visit this part of the world. It feels so exotic and wild with welcoming people and lots of history. And the nature there is simply breathtaking, something we’ll see here too. And just for the record, I didn’t watch The Beach and got all worked up about weed, sea, and fucking off.

War. War never changes. But what about after the war? After the conflict in Vietnam, the American forces left leaving something more than death and destruction, they left their children. Half-American and half-Vietnamese, they were hated and considered outcasts. Meet Binh, a hated outcast who decided to find out what happened in the past…

Sometimes we forget how lucky we are with our access to drinking water, electricity, opportunities, and ultimately the famous “Pursuit of Happiness”. This pursuit is more of a slow walk for most of us, but for some, it’s a long and arduous journey, filled with troubles and despair. And I should stop now before I go full Steven Pinker on you all. We should measure progress by what are our possibilities and not “ex post facto” or after the fact. I do not deny the numbers I just deny the interpretation, but that’s going to lead us in another direction. And I just want to get you to see this wonderful movie.

The director takes us on a journey alongside Binh, making us the immigrants in this movie. Silent witnesses who cannot influence the events unfolding before their eyes, no matter how much they wanted to. It’s like they made a movie based on a documentary. Perhaps the reason behind my fascination with The Beautiful Country is the way the movie’s shot. There are no cheap tricks or emotions placed there to make the viewer more involved, just sheer reality. This honest approach always works.

Director: Hans Petter Moland

Writer: Sabina Murray, Lingard Jervey

Cast: Damien Nguyen, Bai Ling, Thi Hoa Mai, Nick Nolte, Tim Roth, Temuera Morrison

Fun Facts: The budget for the movie was just $6 million.

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