Set in a richly imagined 1980s Saigon, Song Lang is a gritty underworld noir hiding a tender, romantic heart. At the film’s core is the unlikely bond that develops between hunky, brooding Dung (Lien Binh Phat), a tough debt collector for a ruthless loan shark, and Linh Phung (popular V-pop singer Isaac), a charismatic young opera singer for a struggling company that performs cai luong, a modern form of traditional Vietnamese folk opera.
The two meet when Dung comes to forcefully collect a debt from the opera troupe, but when their paths cross again, a friendship—and then more—develops, awakening surprising, tender feelings in both men. Their story, too, soon scales operatic heights. With his first feature film, director Leon Le (Dawn, Frameline38) has delivered a rich drama: a smoldering relationship between two apparent opposites—equally uncompromising—set against the backdrop of a gorgeous, fading art form. For his breakout performance, Lien Binh Phat has picked up rising star awards at festivals across Asia.
— CHARLES PURDY
- Language: In Vietnamese with English subtitles. ASL Interpreter present.
- Premiere Status: Bay Area