Generally favorable reviews - based on 10 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 8 Ratings

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  • Summary: Shot over the course of 23 years, Thavi narrates his own story as a child surviving the Vietnam war and then as a young man struggling to overcome the hardships of immigrant life, an experience shared with his mother in war. Breathtaking and compelling, renowned cinematographer Ellen Kuras’s film is a poetic, deeply personal film, a powerfully eloquent tribute of what it means to be in exile, of the far-reaching consequences of war, and of the resilient bonds of family. Thavisouk’s unforgettable journey reminds us of the strength necessary to survive and of the human spirit’s inspiring capacity to adapt, rebuild, and forgive. [Celluloid Dreams] Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. The film is lyrical, expansive, unbearably beautiful.
  2. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Self-consciously poetic and shot within a luscious inch of its life, the film's also an engrossing heartbreaker: a family saga that spans continents, political administrations, and decades of travail to arrive at a harder, wiser place.
  3. 75
    A powerful account of how the American dream became a nightmare for one Laotian family.
  4. Reviewed by: Sheri Linden
    Exploring a Lao family's experience during and since the Vietnam War, the film chronicles the treacheries of geopolitics and the upheaval of exile.
  5. 70
    The result is imperfect, but its roughness is entirely consistent with the way the filmmakers understand the traumatic experiences of displacement, loss and deprivation.
  6. The past-and-present layering is a lot more resonant -- and less sketchy -- than the film's theme of ''betrayal,'' both familial and governmental.

See all 10 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. MaciekK.
    Jan 24, 2009
    What an amazing film. Usually I feel uncomfortable with this level of intimacy in a documentary. I think it's a credit to Ellen Kuras and Thavi that intimate and heart rending revelations are presented naturally without a hint of voyeurism. There seems to be a bond between them and Ellen and the family which allows for a seamless insight into the families experience. I am an immigrant too, but arrived under very different and privileged conditions. Nevertheless, there are so many universal truths, feelings, and experiences depicted in the film that will resonante with anyone.GO SEE IT!!!!!!! It's a 10+ Expand
  2. JonC.
    Mar 1, 2009
    A truly surprising and moving documentary. It goes unexpected places and makes unexpected connections.
  3. Apr 10, 2011
    It really was a powerful experience to see this film at Sundance. Had the opportunity to meet the director and felt equality touch by his sincerity. Should be a must seen film for young audiences and especially for those first or second generation of immigrant children. It tell a lot about inter generational and cultural merges. Expand