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Movie Review: The Beautiful Country

Alternate Title: Of Human Bondage

Story: The remnants of war keep playing at our heartstrings through the magic of the big screen. The Vietnam War's aftermath is seen through the eyes of 20 year old Bihn. He is known as bin duh (translation, lower than dirt) because he is the son of an American soldier and a Vietnamese woman. Treated like dirt in his home country, the film explores his quest to get to America and find his father.

It is mostly the story of all immigrants who risk life and limb to start anew in America. It is both heartbreaking and uplifting.

Director Hans Peter Moland delivers a visually beautiful film but it gets bogged down on the arduous journey to America. I cared about the characters but found myself wanting to fast forward through many scenes. The ending was a little too tidy for my taste but still a worthwhile experience if you can't get enough of films that deal with this subject and the theme of survival.

Acting: The acting was fine all around and Nick Nolte was fine in a small part at the end of the film as the long lost American soldier father.

Predilection: None (except that I still like Nick Nolte regardless of his bizarre personal behavior).

Critters: Most of the critters ended up on the dinner table.

Food: Lots of unappealing gruel.

Visual Art: The landscape from the beauty of Vietnam to the isolation of a sea crossing to the American West was stimulating.

Theater Audience: About 15 other fans.

Sappy Factor: Not a lick of sap to be found.

Squirm Scale: The human degradation is squirmy.

Drift Factor: I drifted during the long sea passage.

Predictability Level: I was hoping for the best.

Oscar Worthy: No.

Soap Box: There's a lot to be said about war but I do that in my other political mailings.

Big Screen or Rental: Rental would be fine. For some of my favorite Nick Nolte films how about: Hotel Rwanda, The Good Thief, The Thin Red Line, Affliction, Afterglow, Nightwatch, Mother Night, Mulholland Falls, Jefferson in Paris, I Love Trouble, Blue Chips, I'll Do Anything, Lorenzo's Oil, The Prince of Tides, Cape Fear, Q & A, Farewell to the King, New York Stories, Three Fugitives,Weeds, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, 48 Hrs., Cannery Row, Heart Beat, North Dallas Forty, Who'll Stop the Rain and The Deep.

Length: Two hours