The Beautiful Country


Handsomely photographed yet relentlessly grim, The Beautiful Country tells the story of Binh (Damien Nguyen), the Vietnamese son of an American GI father, who is despised by his foster family as bui doi — ”less than dust” — for his parentage. And as the story begins in 1990, the young man sets out, against every odd imaginable by screenwriter Sabina Murray, first to find his mother in Saigon, and then his father in Texas. (Dad is played with random eccentricity by Nick Nolte.)

Hans Petter Moland’s stern instructional drama about gentle resolve in the face of inhumanity puts Binh through a litany of miseries (including internment in a Malaysian refugee camp where he befriends Bai Ling as a Chinese prostitute, and a harrowing ocean voyage on a ship of evil with Tim Roth as captain). And America — the beauty in the title is bitter — barely provides a respite, particularly in the bowels of New York’s Chinatown. (Texas, at least, with its nice Mexican immigrants, is A-OK with Moland.) Inside the Norwegian director’s glove of empathy is a fist of unappeasable anger.

The Beautiful Country
  • Movie
  • 125 minutes