Henry Golding plays a British-Vietnamese man who goes back to the land of his birth in a drama that’s as precise and composed as its protagonist. Mostly set in present-day Saigon, it weaves a queer love story into a Southeast Asian travelogue, exploring themes of migration, change and reconciliation along the way.
Golding is Kit, a debonair Brit who looks like he probably travels with a copy of Wallpaper* magazine. He’s back in Vietnam for the first time since his family fled the country as Saigon was about to fall. His memories are hazy but the scars of war are still very real for him. His efforts to reconnect play out in awkward scenes with a childhood friend (David Tran), who harbours a sense of betrayal at his long absence. The cringy gifts Kit arrives with work as a smart metaphor for the chasm that has grown between them.
Monsoon sees British-Cambodian writerdirector Hong Khaou building on the strengths of his debut, 2014’s Lilting, while broadening his canvas. A gay subplot with American entrepreneur Lewis (Parker Sawyers) evolves from a Grindr hook-up into something deeper, ushering Kit out of himself in a way that makes him more and more relatable. Golding’s subtle, minimalist performance and Khaou’s careful compositions work a treat to show a man at odds with his bustling surroundings as he tries to make peace with the past. Surrender to its gentle rhythms and Monsoon rewards you with a deeply soulful journey.