Song Lang is deferential in its poignancy and magnificent in its emotional heft. Richly hued in nostalgia, the movie is an ode to the glamour of things past and devastating human desires.
To bask in the same moonlight with your loved one, to the feeble human heart, may be the most transcendental kind of intimacy. It’s also the cheapest that money still cannot buy. If Linh Phung finds solace in the full moon on the anniversary of his parents’ death, Dung lives on in his memory of that glowing sky.
Throughout the story, Linh Phung and Dung keep leaving the unsaid to the light. On the Sinco rooftop. Under the warm, all-encompassing, all-forgiving lamps of the noodle stall. In the kitchen. On a bike zipping through the empty streets, rows of forlorn street lights, a trancelike space between silence and the pulsing heartbeats of the city.
The most tender scene is full of (more) devastating emotions: Linh Phung pretending to sleep under the morning sun--his profile on the pillow, an exposed wrist without the watch, as open as his heart. Here’s all that is pure and good in Dung’s life. What the actors lack in chemistry, the plot makes up for in visual eloquence. You know it’s going fucking nowhere, because this is a movie about cai luong. When Dung picks up the song lang, he’s ready to acknowledge his dual nature and transcend the boundaries within himself. Thug and artist, the bully and the abandoned, the rejector and the prodigal son of cai luong.
Ambitious in both scope and depth, the movie handles deftly the dichotomy between religions, while introducing theater as another kind of religious haven itself. Song Lang is magnificent in its portrayal of an art form long past its prime time: the incense offering, the elaborate rituals, the transcendental synergy, the regal costumes, characters as deities, the subsumption of individuals, etc. People love going to cai luong for a glimpse of something larger than life. Yet with all its archetypal characters and age-old legends, cai luong is an abstraction of life. My Chau’s feathers, in a beautiful moment, blossom on stage as the orchestra crests to a climax. They are vestiges of wretched, everlasting, pitiably human emotions: pieces of us we leave behind in the name of love. It it offers any solace, Linh Phung did bring hope into Dung's life. He in turns gave the singer the greatest gift. The aftertaste of Song Lang is like an empty stage after the show: poetic, haunting, verging on the spiritual.
looking at fashion as fine arts, architecture, anthropology, an extreme form of human performance.