Vietnamese Cinderella February 9, 2003
I'm always on the lookout for Cinderella type stories. In this
story we definitely have a servant and two "naughty"
step-type brothers instead of sisters. The two boys in this
movie don't quite know what to make of their new servant. They
almost tend to treat her like a sister in some ways while
otherwise completely ignoring her and never really speaking to
her. One would imagine that children at that age would look
beyond the servant/master issues and actually converse as
The "stepmother" could be her employer, however Mui
is never treated unkindly by her because she reminds her
Mistress (Thi Loc Troung) of the daughter who died many years
before and would have been the same age. When the family can no
longer afford to employ her, she goes to live with a wealthy
This movie excels in artistic expression and the silent
interpretation of dreams and wishes. There is a minimum of
dialogue and the most casual observances become almost a
cherished encounter with nature. Mui watches little frogs,
crickets and ants with a sense of awe while her employer's sons
would be happy to kill any insect they found.
If you love cooking, you will probably love this movie. You
can even get a quick lesson in how to stir-fry. Cooking is done
on the floor over coals and Mui takes on the role of chef and
housecleaner. There is an emphasis on the rituals of life. The
simple is made beautiful. Every natural sound seems amplified.
This is not only visually appealing; the sounds of rice being
poured into a huge urn or the sizzle of oil in a wok are all
Mui is told she will get to see her mother but we never see
this occur. In fact, everything in the story takes place in the
house or in the surrounding village.
Astonishingly beautiful and I can't believe this was shot
entirely in Paris. Although, the ending does have a rather
Amelie feel to it. You'll see.
The plot is really simple, but this doesn't seem to detract
from the sheer visual enjoyment.
~The Rebecca Review