Admirable though it may be for Stone to have followed Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July with an account of the Vietnam War as experienced by a Vietnamese woman, good intentions don't necessarily make for good movies. This is awful. When a prologue set in 1953 introduces young Le Ly and her peaceful farming community just before the arrival of French troops, it's clear from an autobiographical voice-over, the gleeful peasant faces and the swelling music that we're not about to see an understated movie. And as Le Ly (Hiep Thi Le) proceeds on her physically dangerous and spiritually devastating odyssey, Stone scuppers what could have been an affecting story with visual, verbal and dramatic bombast. In going again for the big one, the director resorts to damp sentimentality, cod poeticism and facile preachiness - and it seems to last forever.