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Directed by Thanh Tâm / Reviewed by Riya Saha

Within the contexts of Independent cinema, you can explore the depth of story writing and storytelling. But we rarely come across a romantic family tale that speaks about the ideal mother, wife, and lover. The advantage of reviewing a Script is that you do not have the face of the characters in front of you and you can create your imaginations. Thanh Tâm’s A Realm of Return is fascinating not only because it is the story of the 3 most important women, but it is about the perspective. The script has everything you can name. A wife who just lost his husband, a mother who lost his son, and lover who was pregnant but circumstances never let them be together.

As the film broadens in scope, incorporating flashbacks and new dynamics like of Thu and Khoa, it also shifts perspective: first to THU’S, and then to NGA. But along the way, the whole warmth of the script rests on the love the woman shares for a man Khoa. Thanh Tâm’s storyline, in particular, feels the true sense of belonging and being loved, both in her views on the characters and in her sharp attempts to keep the whole story intact means – including an obsession which the mother and for her son.

Operating within the stereotypes of ever-giving, ever-sacrificing mothers who are never doubted or questioned, Thanh Tâm brings out a different character of a lady who has separated his son from the love of his life.

To understand modernized cinema, it is important to understand the director’s gradual but persevering separation from gender binaries and roles. Both the personality of a Wife and the love are perfectly portrayed in the character of NGA, a petite 50-year-old Vietnamese woman, and then the lover. You cannot differentiate whose role is the best, the whole story in its true self is attracting and cathy. The dialogue between mom and the lover are truly well built. But most what attracts me is how the script reveals the flashbacks. Each of the present scenes is matched with the past and thus clears out the doubts in the mind.

The relationship between mom and her daughter in law is picturized as how NGA had to fight with her true self in bringing up her children and how small behaviors bothered her. The complexity between NGA and her mother in law is the picture of our society. The jealousy of a mother to her son’s lover is very common. The same thing happens in the case of accepting that her son loves a woman more than her. The story perfectly showcases every psychology a woman goes through in every stages of their life. The ending is just perfect, a fantasy. There cannot be a better ending than this.

The story is simple, but layers of complexity in the lead characters are evident. I was completely blown out by the simple yet so touchy storyline. Be it the conversations between the mother-daughter-son (NGA, a petite 50 year old Vietnamese woman 20 year old son LAM and LINH, her 15 year old daughter) or the conversation between the wife and the lover you can feel the love everywhere. And it is extremely well etched. There is an inherent freshness in the movie mostly because of the splendid script.

Love in this movie is expressed in odd ways, but it is still genuine. I completely loved the script and I wait to see how the director with his/her directorial talent turns it into a patronizing movie.


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