Regret To Inform

More than 20 years after her husband was killed in combat, Barbara Sonneborn decided to visit the site of his death in Vietnam. The resulting documentary, more than closure-providing therapy for its maker, locates Sonneborn's pilgrimage within a studiously broad context, encompassing archival footage (well chosen if sometimes clumsily deployed) and interviews with other war widows. Balance and perspective are key— the subjects comprise a diverse group of American and Vietnamese women. (Representing both camps is the translator who accompanies Sonneborn, Xuan Ngoc Evans, who has lived in the U.S. since 1972 and whose horrific recollections are rendered in curious Oprahspeak.) The lush Vietnamese landscapes that had such an anesthetizing effect in the insipid Three Seasons here serve as a poignant counterpoint to the harrowing testimonials. Regret To Inform may claim an unusual point of view, but the anguish it uncovers is familiar from numerous previous accounts of the war. That it's the same tragic story however you come at it may in fact be the most enlightening aspect of this film.

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