Film Review: Memento Mori: Earth (2022) by Marcus Vudire Manh Cuong

Reportedly the 1st film in a series of films, with “Water” possessing been chosen for the Asian Project Industry (APM) of BIFF 2021, “Memento Mori: Earth” is a somewhat abstract film that appears to concentrate on death, in a individual trip that also seems to function as a tribute to the men and women who have died of cancer and as a healing course of action for Marcus Vu Manh Cuong, in his function debut.

Memento Mori: Earth is screening at Busan International Film Festival

The film is set on a coffee farm in the Central Highlands of Vietnam and unfolds in a non-linear style, via a series of vignettes. The most important theme, having said that, is Van, a mother of two, who is dying from cancer at the age of 27. As the film starts, her husband and her father are possessing a heated conversation about her selection to donate her organs following her death, with the latter getting specifically aggravated by her want to give away her corneas. As the film progresses, we also find out that Van’s mother also died at the age of 27 in an accident in the coffee fields. The previous, the present and the future all coexist right here, with the narrative also like dreams, hallucinations, fantasies and in depth flashbacks, a quantity of which show Van’s life in greater wellness, operating and taking care of her loved ones and household, though the phantom of her sickness appears to lurk in each frame.

Via a rather thin narrative, with the argument about the transplant and some notions about the economic challenges the loved ones faces, Vu directs a film that is characterized by its intense ritualistic method, as indicated by image, sound and Van’s occasional narration. Furthemore, the film also functions as a sort of a road film, though not in areas, but in memories of factors that occurred and other people that did not, as we witness the protagonist’s “trip” from wellness to sickness and to death. At the very same time, this is not only a path reserved for her, but also for the men and women about her, her father who can not fathom losing a different particular person so dear to him, but most of all her husband, who is in fact the a single at some point “accompanying” her to her final trip.

This method forbids the film from becoming a melodrama, regardless of the truth that all the components are there, with Vu preferring to implement an method that is basically experimental, abstract and unquestionably non-linear. At 85 minutes, even though, this method becomes somewhat tedious following a point, as it becomes rather tricky to adhere to what is taking place right here, at least when a thing is in fact taking place.

What saves the film, even though, is its visuals, with Ngoc Khuyen Tran’s cinematography capturing each the location and the domestic setting of the loved ones via a mixture of realism, surrealism and artistry which fits the general aesthetics right here to perfection. Especially a quantity of lengthy shots, the a single beneath the tree with the red leaves and the final a single on the hill are bound to remain on the viewer’s thoughts, as their good quality matches the ones of paintings. Le Hoang Phuc Nguyen’s editing basically scrambles the timeline, in a way, even though, that also fits the basic narrative method of the film.

Nguyen Hai Yen as Van provides a captivating functionality in the way she portrays her declining wellness, when Lam Duy Phuong as Hoang, her husband, is equally competent in the stoic way he presents his grief.

“Memento Mori: Earth” is a tricky film to watch due to its narrative method, and the artistry right here is not on the level of Le Bao’s “Taste”. Which followed a equivalent path, to “excuse” the aforementioned problem totally. At the very same time, even though, it becomes evident that Marcus Vudire Manh Cuong has an eye for composition and some intriguing concepts relating to his context, he just requires to polish his writing and presentation a bit in order to get to the subsequent level.



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