May 07, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Three Seasons

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
performer
Harvey Keitel
director
Tony Bui
genre
Drama
We gave it a B-

Vietnam is a tourist brochure, a disembodied country of fragile lotus blossoms, sad beautiful prostitutes, philosophical bicycle-cab drivers, resilient street urchins, and tormented American army vets searching for their Amerasian children in Tony Bui’s attractive first feature. Much has been made of the fact that the elegiac drama, composed of interlacing stories about yearning inhabitants in different seasons of life, is the first American film to be made in Vietnam since the war — made, indeed, by a Vietnam-born 26-year-old who moved to California when he was 2. But the same ingratiating qualities that earned it top prizes at this year’s Sundance reduce Three Seasons to an album of goodwill-courting ”types” rather than a drama of more complex, less obvious characters. The painterly cinematography is by Lisa Rinzler (Trees Lounge). The featured tormented vet is by Harvey Keitel, who, for those counting, urinates but does not flash his privates in this movie. B-

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