Henry Golding is mightily impressive in Monsoon, the new film from Lilting director Hong Khaou. The last few years have seen the charismatic Malaysian-British actor make the most of Hollywood roles in the likes of Crazy Rich Asians, A Simple Favour and Last Christmas. This latest turn sees Golding working in a quieter, more contemplative mode as Kit, a British-Vietnamese man returning to his birth country of Vietnam for the first time in three decades in order to scatter his parents’ ashes.
Not quite a tourist, but no longer familiar with the language, pace or customs of the country he left as a refugee at eight-years-old, Monsoon follows Kit as he struggles to reacquaint himself with a new, modern Ho Chi Minh City. Adrift, Kit reconnects with an estranged childhood friend (David Tran), and embarks on a tentative romance with Lewis (Parker Sawyers), an African American man with his own wartime connections.
The film is composed in moody tones, with striking shots emblematic of present day Vietnam: lush tropical foliage contrasted with neon-lit bars and emergent contemporary architecture. With much of the drama internal and unspoken, Khaou trusts his star to carry this thoughtfully-assembled tale of immigration and alienation. Golding duly rewards the filmmaker with a moving performance that ensures Monsoon is never less than compelling.