The Beautiful Country

Rated R 2005

Generous in spirit and fearlessly observant, this tale of an outcast Vietnamese man's journey to freedom deserves a place of honor among the great films portraying emigrant tenacity -- everything from The New Land to the Godfather movies. Directed by young Norwegian Hans Petter Moland and starring a Vietnamese newcomer educated in California (Damien Nguyen), the odyssey takes us from the streets of Saigon to a filthy Malaysian refugee camp, a gruesome ocean voyage aboard a tramp steamer, and a period of enslavement in New York's Chinatown. The "beautiful country" of the title is less a place than the deathless dream of contentment that motivates its beleaguered, mixed-blood hero. Co-starring a Chinese beauty named Bai Ling and, once the story delivers us to rural Texas, a gritty, weary Nick Nolte. A completely authentic film.

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