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Lost in Paradise

Perhaps the first film from Vietnam to depict homosexual love both explicitly and in a positive light, Ngoc Dang Vu’s Lost in Paradise conveys its characters’ lives in a remarkable range of tones, from the humor­ous to the absurd to the tragic. Khoi, a naive twenty-year-old, travels to Ho Chi Minh City from the countryside to begin a new life.

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

18th January 2012 17:41

Alessia Valenza | ILGA Asia

It’s his first time in the big city and he’s look­ing for a place to live. He befriends Dong, a handsome extrovert who offers to share his apartment. When Khoi goes to check the place out, he meets Lam, who also appears to be living there. Khoi decides to stay, but while he showers, Dong and Lam — who turn out to be boyfriends — run off with all his cash and belongings. It’s not long before Lam is himself aban­doned by Dong, and winds up back on the street as a prostitute. Meanwhile the penni­less and disillusioned Khoi takes on menial jobs to survive. Lam and Khoi are eventually reunited, and despite Lam’s past actions, the two become closer and closer — even though Khoi becomes more and more troubled by Lam’s dangerous source of income.

At the same time, Cuoi, a mentally handi­capped man abandoned by his family, attempts to befriend a female prostitute. Her pimps do not take kindly to his hang­ing around and scaring away customers, but she takes pity on him and ultimately becomes his protector.

Lost in Paradise boldly depicts the hard­ships of those living on the fringes of Vietnamese society:

the dangers and abuse within the world of prostitution; gay-bash­ing; the difficulty of sustaining a meaningful relationship under extremely precarious cir­cumstances; and the pariah-like status and lack of support for the handicapped. Lost in Paradise opens our eyes to rarely glimpsed facets of contemporary Vietnam, and relays stories that are usually left untold.