Song Lang

Song Lang

Last week, I went to watch Song Lang at the Asian American International Film Festival. Growing up, I have always loved watching Vietnamese movies because it gave me a chance to practice my listening skills and also let me watch Vietnamese people on the big screen (representation is important!). But even though I like watching Vietnamese movies, it doesn’t mean that they’ve been great (I’m looking at you, Passport to Love and Fool for Love, which both had really abrupt endings and choppy story development).

Earlier this year, I went to watch Furie, and while the action was really fun, the storyline was really predictable and fell flat for me.

So when I saw that Song Lang was one of the movies for this year’s AAIFF, I was debating whether I should go watch it or not. Then, I saw the trailer.

It looked amazing!

The story takes place in the 1980s in Saigon, during the golden era of cải lương1. It follows two characters, Dung who is a ruthless debt collector, and Linh Phung, a talented cải lương star.

The film was really beautifully shot, with really thoughtful scenes. After the movie, there was a Q&A with the director, Leon Le ?! He mentioned that he really wanted to keep things in the movie as subtle as possible without hammering the viewers on the head with information. This leaves a lot up to interpretation for the audience, which was refreshing. I’ve been a person who needs to know if something is black or white, but it’s nice to have my mind wander in the gray area.

Le also mentioned that the entire movie was shot with a 3:2 aspect ratio, which is the DSLR ratio (thanks to Cuong in the comments for the correction!). This is different from the aspect ratio used for the majority of films.

The film really takes you for a ride, and I loved how it incorporated all the “behind-the-scenes” shots of what it takes to put on a cải lương performance, from the extravagant costumes to the heavy makeup, and even to how people on the sides of the stage will shout out the next lines to the performers for them to sing in case they forgot.

While the movie initially have Dung portrayed as a violent lowlife and Linh as a rich kid with everything, things aren’t always as they appear. And as the movie progressed, I felt emotionally invested in both characters and rooting for their success.

I heard at the Q&A that Song Lang will be touring in many other cities this year, so keep an eye out on their Instagram page for updates to see if it’ll be playing at a theatre near you!

  1. Vietnamese opera – wiki


  • Ivana Split
    August 8, 2019 at 10:09 am

    seems like a great film! I have never seen a Vietnamese film, I’d love to see this one.

  • Carrie @ Curly Crafty Mom
    August 8, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    This looks like a great film and it’d be educational for me since I don’t know a lot about Vietnamese culture, etc.


  • Soph
    August 9, 2019 at 8:05 am

    I’ve not heard of Song Lang before but the trailer looks great! I hope you enjoy it.
    Soph – x

  • SundayDahlias
    August 9, 2019 at 11:22 am

    It looks beautifully shot! I’ve never heard of it, so thank you for introducing the movie!

  • Grace Louise
    August 9, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    It looks so beautiful, will definitely need to check it out soon! x

    Grace Louise ||

  • Kinga
    August 9, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    I haven’t known it yet 🙂

  • Rowena @ rolala loves
    August 9, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    This sounds like a really compelling film. So cool that it was shot on a DSLR. I’ve watched a number K-dramas shot on a DSLR and if it’s done right it looks great. I grew up watching Chinese movies and television shows and owe them for being able to speak Cantonese and Mandarin but some of the plots definitely needed some work.

  • The Exclusive Beauty
    August 10, 2019 at 10:33 am

    It look like a interesting movie. Thank you for sharing.

    New Post –

  • Crystal @ Lost in Storyland
    August 10, 2019 at 11:59 am

    This sounds like a great film! I love that it leaves things open for interpretation and that it shows us what went on behind the scenes!

  • Eena
    August 10, 2019 at 11:54 pm

    I’ve never heard of this film but I’m very intrigued to go see it now. Thanks for sharing!

    Eena ☼ cabin twenty-four

  • Radi
    August 11, 2019 at 1:34 am

    I’ve never seen a movie like this but the trailer looks so interesting.

  • Mica
    August 11, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    Sounds like a great movie and so interesting that they filmed it all on a DSLR!

    Hope that you have had a great weekend 🙂

  • mercy
    August 11, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    Interesting story! I find stories set in Saigon intriguing like the Miss Saigon musical and Clint Eastwood’s war movies.

  • yuka
    August 12, 2019 at 12:59 am

    I’ll definitely have to check this movie out! sounds really good!

  • Claudine
    August 12, 2019 at 9:22 am

    Oh my, I’ve always been in awe of Vietnamese culture and traditions, and I’ve always wanted to see a traditional Vietnamese opera so the premise really intrigued me. I watched the trailer and now I want to go and see the movie! I wonder if there’s any way to watch it in Asia…

    Thanks for sharing this with us! <3

    PS: The whole film was shot with a DSLR? Wow! Just goes to show that you can still tell beautiful stories and compose great shots as long as you're resourceful enough 🙂

  • Nina
    August 12, 2019 at 9:32 am
  • Gabrielle
    August 12, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    The fact you became emotionally invested in the characters’ storylines is a brilliant sign of how captivating the film was! I also love films that truly take you along for a whirlwind ride… x

  • Anouk
    August 12, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    I have never seen any Vietnamese movie. Always great when you get to see a film in the presence of the director/actors.


  • Nancy
    August 12, 2019 at 11:15 pm

    It is so cool that you got to watch Song Lang! You can’t go wrong with Asian movies. Oh wow, it is so cool that the movie was shot on a DSLR. That is something else! The quality looks so nice as well. Glad you had a great experience!

    Nancy ♥

  • Ashley
    August 13, 2019 at 10:37 am

    This sounds like an amazing film- I love immersing myself in a movie’s world and getting invested in the characters, too. 🙂

    Le Stylo Rouge

  • Lovely
    August 14, 2019 at 9:47 am

    This sounds like a wonderful film, I would love to watch it!


  • Kara
    August 18, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    I haven’t heard of this film before but it looks really interesting! It’s so cool that it was filmed only using a DSLR.

    x Kara |

  • Samantha Mariko
    August 19, 2019 at 12:36 am

    I love watching cultural movies like this, it’s a great way to learn about cultures I don’t know that much about. thanks for introducing this movie!
    xo Samantha

  • Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's
    August 21, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    So amazing that this was shot on DSLR! Where there’s a will, there’s a way <3 -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  • Alyssa
    August 26, 2019 at 4:31 pm
  • sarah
    August 27, 2019 at 3:01 am

    This looks like an interesting film and definitely my cup of tea. The soundtrack is really amazing, it kind of pulls my emotion right then and there. I hope I can stream this on Netflix.

  • hotaru ♥
    August 28, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    It looks very interesting, it is a pity that such films do not reach Mexico, although well you could always look for something online! It has very good plots, if I have seen some Taiwanese and Viednmite movies, although I think they are classic. !!!
    A kiss. Xoxo / hotaru ❤

  • Gemma
    August 29, 2019 at 4:40 am

    Looks really interesting! Thanks for sharing the trailer.

    Gemma x

  • Atsuna Matsui
    September 5, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    Oooh so I’ve never seen a Vietnamese film before actually. I’ve definitely seen Taiwanese and Japanese, but I’d like to check out a Vietnamese movie now. 🙂


  • Cuong Nguyen
    January 21, 2020 at 7:30 am

    The film was NOT shot on DSLR. I was there at the screening. I think you’ve misheard or misunderstood the director’s statement. He said the film was shot with 3:2 aspect ratio, which is the DSLR ratio. From what I’ve seen in the behind the scenes footage on youtube, this was a quite a big production, and they definitely did not shoot on DSLR. Beautiful film!

    • Mai Nguyen
      February 13, 2020 at 5:47 pm

      Thanks for the correction Cuong! I’ll update my post :)! I must have misheard during the Q&A.


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