Three Seasons (1999)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Ensemble Film, Urban Drama  |   Release Date - Apr 30, 1999 (USA)  |   Run Time - 113 min.  |   Countries - United States , Vietnam   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Keith Phipps

If Three Seasons were as substantive as it is engaging or as satisfying as it is attractive, it would be a masterpiece. As it stands, the much-lauded first feature of Tony Bui reveals a rare instance of a director with more talent than ambition. Bui has an eye for an indelible image and the composition skills of a seasoned veteran, but each of his film's three stories all taper into ponderousness well before reaching their conclusion. But by the time it becomes apparent that Bui has a frustrating tendency to favor situations over stories, Three Seasons will probably have already won over most viewers. Set in a modern day Vietnam no longer unable to keep the West at bay, Three Seasons' stunning cinematography (from Hughes Brothers and Wim Wenders vet Lisa Rinzler) coupled with Bui's unassuming direction beautifully captures a corner of the world largely unfamiliar to outsiders as it enters a state of transition. Excellent performances help as well, particularly by Harvey Keitel, Don Duong, and Zoe Bui. The latter two performers make the film's most contrived story more interesting than it might otherwise have been.