The Golden Pin
Canada, 2008, 93 min
DIR: Cuong Ngo
Despite its abbreviated length, The Golden Pin is an ambitious and adventurous film in terms of content and underlying message. Director Cuong Ngo crafts a short that manages to explosively challenge several unspoken boundaries, such as interracial and homosexual barriers, which are rarely ever addressed in feature-length Asian cinema.
Lead character Long played by Kris Duangphung, is due to be married to the lovely Vanessa, played by Lily Nguyen. All seems well until the film’s central catch, which is, essentially, straight out of Brokeback Mountain: Long’s swimming partner, Ryan (Ben Bela Boehm), has feelings for him, and objects to his impending marriage and betrayal of their mutual affection. A brief quote from Long’s father, Phong, describes what is already known to those familiar with Asian culture, the importance of sons begetting children and continuing the family line.
Much of Long’s inner turmoil is relayed through body language and facial expressions, amidst acrobatic sessions in the swimming pool. The lines that separate the lanes in the pool seem to stand for the degrees of separation and segregation that the characters struggle to overcome. Minh Ngoc Nguyen really steals the show here, of course, as Linh, Long’s mother. Interestingly, Linh speaks the entire time in Vietnamese, while Long only converses in English. In this way, yet another barrier is alluded to – the generational gap between Asian immigrants and their local-born children. And yet it is clear that mother and son understand each other perfectly.
It is left to Linh to make the film’s philosophical points; in the film’s most emotional, climatic scene, Linh confesses the doubts and internal conflicts she had prior to her marriage, ultimately stating that Long must follow his own desires and passions, regardless of the consequences.
In it brevity, The Golden Pin may seem to end suddenly or feel unresolved. Still, director Cuong Ngo manages to convey his themes very effectively in the short time span, provoking the audience to consider the presence of such barriers in their own lives, and the possibility of overcoming them.
Followed by 30 Day Promise and My Toxic Baby
Screening: Sunday, May 30th, 1:00 pm.