Nong hak [Dearest Sister] (2016)

Nong hak
Director: Mattie Do
Writer: Christopher Larsen
Cast: Amphaiphun PhommapunyaVilouna PhetmanyTambet Tuisk
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 4.5.2017
[Review by cornholio.]

Nok (Amphaiphun Phommapunya) travels to Vientiane, the Lao capital, to be with her sister Ana (Vilouna Phetmany) who recently turned blind and needs help. Nok, who so far has lived in a small village in relative poverty, is impressed by the rich lifestyle of her sister, who married the white, shady businessman Jakob (Tambet Tuisk). The relationship between the sisters is contentious, and Nok tries to use her new position mostly for her own gain, even at the cost of others. But it appears that Ana is still able to see something – only what she sees may not be exactly on this plane of reality.

Dearest Sister (which I actually crowdfunded, so it was a double pleasure to see it in cinemas here) was engaging throughout, although I did have a couple of issues with it and it didn’t quite blow me away. Still, it was a good watch.

Dearest Sister pulls of a delicate balance: I liked none of the characters as people, but I was always interested in what happened to them and with them, so it always remained engaging.

Just before the showdown, though, the film suddenly develops a little lenght and drags its heels a little before really getting down to the resolution of the story. But up until that lengthy bit and after, there was always a tension to it, even when nothing really tense happened.

The film deals with the topic of greed in an interesting manner and I was generally taken in by the setup of the story. And the ghosts looked really great. Unfortunately there is also a counterweight to all these good things: the connection between disability and magic ability. That’s an often seen thing in films where disability is seen as a defect, as a weakness and one that needs to be equalized by giving the characters magic powers instead (or a special purity). And that’s an ableist trope that needs to die.

Fortunately they don’t put too much emphasis on that angle in the film, so I was able to ignore it for most of the time and enjoy the film. Overall, I’d say that the good things about it outweigh the bad and it’s definitely a film worth watching.

Summarizing: See it.

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