[News from TIFF.net] In the Name of Love - Lay Chong Nguoi Ta

In this dark love triangle that proceeds with the inexorable logic of a Greek tragedy, a dedicated wife in a small Vietnamese fishing village secretly turns to another man when her husband is unable to give her the child they both crave — but the surrogate father's crazed jealousy will have fateful consequences.

The new film by Luu Huynh, a talented new voice in contemporary Vietnamese cinema, is a dark love triangle that grips with a steadily mounting sense of dread. Set in a small village, In the Name of Love focuses on Khanh (Huy Khanh) and Nhung (Dinh Y Nhung), a married couple whose poverty does not interfere with their happiness. A fisherman, Khan cannot provide wealth or comfort for his wife, a weaver of traditional straw hats; but their life, while modest, is honest and dignified. The only cloud looming over them is the fact that they have not been able to conceive a child. The quiet and dedicated Nhung conceals her inner anguish as Khanh obsessively tracks the frequency of their lovemaking and anxiously awaits the happy news of her pregnancy. Finally, she resolves to do everything in her power to dispel the sadness of their sterility.

Nhung secretly approaches Linh (Thai Hoa), a former friend of Khanh, who has always been attracted to her and who stopped spending time with the couple after they got married, to serve as her child’s surrogate father. An alcoholic who is perpetually between jobs, Linh barely stays afloat by selling lottery tickets in the streets while costumed as the Vietnamese god of wealth, a deity that grants prosperity and good luck. Linh and Nhung’s loveless affair succeeds in getting Nhung pregnant, but the joy of finally being able to look forward to having a family is soon shattered by Linh’s violent jealousy. Crazed at the sight of Nhung and Khanh’s happiness, Linh attempts to drag the couple down into his pit of frustration and perversity, with tragic consequences.

Giving the film a serene, elegant look that stands in stark contrast to the dark passions at the core of the drama, Luu crafts a compelling study of misguided good intentions and thwarted desire that proceeds with the majestic, inexorable and terrible logic of a Greek tragedy. While all the principals are excellent, Thai is a standout as the maddened Linh, ridiculously garbed in his threadbare deity’s garments and offering a frighteningly vivid study of how male humiliation can grow cancerously into the most terrifying violence.

Giovanna Fulvi 

 

Director Biography Luu Huynh was born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He studied filmmaking at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena before returning to Vietnam. His feature films include Michael and I (93), The White Silk Dress (07), The Legend is Alive (09) and In the Name of Love (12).