First Morning | Chicago Reader

First Morning

A 2003 drama about a Vietnamese refugee family who seek a better life in southern California but endure rape, robbery, and years of separation from one another. Writer-director Victor Vu narrowly rescues his characters from one-dimensional martyrdom by lending them an assortment of quirks and character flaws. In contrast to the cliched portrayals of Asian-American families as piously cohesive, the Nguyens are racked by dysfunction, infidelity, and, ultimately, estrangement. At times Vu stoops to made-for-TV gimmickry such as the use of slow motion and tight close-ups to punctuate key dramatic moments. But as details of the family's story are revealed, a credibly complex drama takes shape. With Kathleen Luong and Dang Hung Son. In English and subtitled Vietnamese. Preceded by a short by Adele Ray, El Paso Vietnam. 100 min.

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