Journey From the Fall
Directed by Ham Tran
Opens March 23, ImaginAsian Theater
The fall of the title is that of South Vietnam, and the journey is the long and arduous trek to America undertaken by one persecuted familythe wife, mother, and son of an unrepentant counterrevolutionarywhile their absent patriarch rots in a Communist "re-education" camp. Beautifully made and sincere to a fault, Journey From the Fall comes touted by its writer-director, Ham Tran, as the Vietnamese equivalent of Schindler's List; in reality, the film carries stronger echoes of The Joy Luck Club, as it juxtaposes grueling torture and heroic escape against the sometimes equally Sisyphean struggles of settling into a new life in a new country. Tran's film is laudable as one of the few movies to depict the Vietnam War and its aftermath through the eyes of the Vietnamese, but at a moment when directors as varied as Clint Eastwood, Paul Verhoeven, and Ken Loach are discovering innovative and meaningful ways of dramatizing the great man-made atrocities of the 20th century, Tran's reliance on declamatory political dialogue and movie-of-the-week inspirationalism feels decidedly old-fashioned and, finally, even phony.