Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (2023)

Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (2023)

A gorgeous and hypnotic—but very demanding—piece of slow cinema

6.3

Movie

France, Singapore
Vietnamese
Drama
2023
PHAM THIEN AN
Le Phong Vu, Nguyen Thi Truc Quynh, Nguyen Thinh
179 min

TLDR

I can think of no place that's more distracting to watch slow cinema on than streaming.

What it's about

A man returns to his countryside hometown in the hopes of bringing word of his sister-in-law's death to his missing brother.

The take

As a sluggishly paced, three-hour spiritual drama with little dialogue and even less plot, Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell certainly won't convert anybody who isn't already interested in slow cinema. Even those who don't mind these types of films in which "nothing happens" might feel that it doesn't weave its themes of faith and suffering tightly enough. But there's more than enough beauty to contemplate here, courtesy of Dinh Duy Hung's stunning cinematography, which invites us to simply inhabit the world and to stop looking for answers. This may sound like a copout, but it's quite the experience to have a film force you to rethink how you're viewing it, as you're viewing it.

What stands out

Thien An Pham's direction is clearly influenced (whether intentionally or not) by many other slow cinema masters such as Lav Diaz and Chantal Akerman. But in this, his first feature, he displays a real mastery over the camera, finding many opportunities to break from static shots and to make the flow of scenes more dynamic than expected. The film's best moments are when Pham follows his characters as they traverse the landscape, the camera patiently following from behind, with every moment unfolding a new layer to the environment, like a tapestry unfurling. And if you can get on its hypnotic wavelength, that might be more than enough to enjoy the film as a whole.

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