A stealthy love letter from son to father, As the Call, So the Echo follows New Mexican ear, nose, and throat doc Alex Moreano as he spends two weeks volunteering at a Ho Chi Minh City hospital. His son, Keir, directed this occasionally vérité look at intercultural (mis)communication. Many pained minutes are spent bridging the language gap—Alex fruitlessly asks where to clean his dirty instruments, but one mention of “inverted papilloma” brings a nod of acknowledgment from his peers. Despite the family ties, the film remains strikingly objective, depicting Alex as bored with healthy Americans—his face lights up when a man with a gigantic head tumor eases into his temporary office in Vietnam. As the Call doesn’t shirk from the professional thrills he gets out of the trip, and its lack of sentiment is bracing. In the end, though, Keir can’t resist glorifying his dad, with a final shot seeped in a tone of self-congratulation that the rest of the film so nimbly evades.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 24, 2006