DRAMA; 1hr 40min (Lao with subtitles)
STARRING: Sittiphon Disamoe, Loungnam Kaosainam, Thep Pho-ngam
High hopes: Disamoe
Bomb-pocked Laos is a gauzily serene country in writer-director Kim Mordaunt’s meditative drama. Even so, the obstacles the Lao people confront are destructive and stark, both as victims of war and as the displaced targets of big, hydro-electric business. When their village is commandeered, 10-year-old Ahlo (Disamoe) and his father (Sumrit Warin) and grandmother (Bunsri Yindi) are relocated overnight to a slum. Already believed cursed, before long feisty Ahlo has alienated everyone there.
Ahlo is a spunky kid but he’s feeling the weight of disconnection. With his newfound ally Kia (Kaosainam), a pint-sized knockout with seen-it-all eyes, and her oddball, rice wine–slugging uncle (Pho-ngam), he sets out to build a rocket, win a competition and buy his family some land. Call it uncrushable spirit or the crazed whim of a mixed-up little boy, but the daydream starts to take shape and Disamoe, who has lived on the streets, straddles every hurdle with a survivor’s fierce purpose. Like his fellow empathic cast members, he’s the definition of a natural.