Viet and Nam 2024

Trong lòng đất

Directed by Trương Minh Quý Fresh

A bold and atmospheric queer romance about two coal miners who find love deep in the bowels of the earth, this stunning feature from upcoming young Vietnamese filmmaker Trương Minh Quý was beautifully shot on 16mm film.

Aug 17

Hollywood Avondale

Vietnam In Vietnamese with English subtitles
129 minutes Colour / DCP
M
Sex scenes, offensive language & nudity

Director, Screenplay

Producers

Bianca Balbuena, Bradley Liew

Cinematography

Son Doan

Editor

Félix Rehm

Production Designer

Trương Trung Đạo

Cast

Phạm Thanh Hải, Đào Duy Bảo Định, Nguyễn Thị Nga, Lê Viết Tụng

Festivals

Cannes (Un Certain Regard), Sydney 2024

Elsewhere

Viet and Nam are two young coal miners enveloped in a languid romantic connection. Working together in the dark and cold abysses of the earth, there they also find shelter to consummate their passion. Their bodies meet and dissolve into each other in the sparkling darkness of the mine, while they tenderly seek acceptance in the outside world.  

They playfully walk together along the seashore, as all lovers would do, but they feel theirs is a doomed romance, as Nam plans to illegally immigrate overseas. Nam’s affectionate mother seems to be aware and accepting of their union, and before he leaves the country to seek better luck abroad, he and Viet embark on the mission to help her looking for the earthly remains of his father, who died during the war.  

Shot in textured 16mm, Viet and Nam is a slow burning and quietly absorbing drama that effortlessly weaves together a heartbreaking love story with a poetic meditation on the recent history of Vietnam. Director Trương Minh Quý’s sensuous and sensual approach will remind many of Thai maestro Apichatpong Weerasethakul, yet his emotional melancholy is his own trademark. And certainly, the next time you eat watermelon, you will think of the fairytale told in the strikingly poignant finale. — Paolo Bertolin 

“Trương paints his nation’s war grief as a form of quasi-religion, fealty to which cannot be easily shaken off. Radio announcers intone the names of ‘martyrs’ whose bodies remain undiscovered; a spiritualist serves as a kind of divining rod to locate the fallen for their families. She gets reverential treatment, despite giving all the appearances of being a total huckster.   Those two forces – love and trauma – elide in Nam’s plan to escape the country via an illegal people trafficking operation. Viet begs him to stay but life in a country haunted by its past holds no promise for him. The two actors convey that deep unspoken sadness in scenes that linger like a lucid dream.” — Phil de Semlyen, Time Out