Saigon Yo (Electric)
“Saigon Yo (Electric)” is an extremely enjoyable fish-out-of-water story with a little bit of dancing thrown into the mix. There is a lot of familiarity in the story, but the characters help transcend this film beyond another stereotypical film.
The story begins with Mai, a ribbon dancer from the country, as she moves to Saigon to achieve her dream of attending the local dance academy. Through a shared job, Mai meets Kim, a local street dancer. With hopes of a better life, the group sets its sites on the local dance competition. Unfortunately, Kim’s courtship with a wealthy young man threatens the group’s chances of winning the competition and her friendship with Mai.
Writer-director Stephane Gauger has brought us a beautiful story about two young girls trying to find their place in the world. On the surface, it may appear a typical dance flick, but looks are always deceiving. Most of the movie focuses on the story of Mai and Kim, and Gauger does a marvelous job equally weaving both stories through his writing and directing.
Mai’s story is the more interesting. She has just moved to the country and is the epitome of a fish out of water. After bombing her audition for the dance academy, she has no idea what she is going to do with herself until befriending Kim, who introduces Mai to street dancing and opens up a whole new world to her. It is the perfect representation of what most adolescents feel as they step out into the real world for the first time. A lot of people believe they know what they want to do with the rest of their lives but have the realization that it won’t be as easy as they hope.
As the story progresses, Kim is pursued by a wealthy young man. She is hesitant about starting the relationship because of their conflicting social statuses but gives in to her feelings anyway. As things seem to be going well, their relationship ends due to the pressure of the boy’s father and Kim is crushed. Everyone can relate to a character like this. A lot of people have had relationships end as quickly as they have begun. It all comes down to our allegiances to love or to traditions.
Gauger has created two characters that are a representation of what everyone goes through at sometime in their lives. His directing is also top notch. The performances that he is able to get out of his actors are great, and Gauger should have a promising career in film.
If there is one movie that you should see at this year’s Heartland Film Festival, “Saigon Yo (Electric)” is the one.