This beautiful and restrained epic follows the 20-year-old, racially mixed Binh (Damien Nguyen) as he journeys from Vietnam to Texas and all points in between in search of his family. Binh leaves his small Vietnamese village, where he lives with his foster parents, to find his mother, Mai (Chau Thi Kim Xuan), who lives with her young son. Mai, whose health is failing, presses Binh to flee the country with his newfound half-brother Tam. Using Mai's savings, the two brothers board a small boat bound for the U.S., where they plan to search for Binh's American father. But the boat only makes it as far as Malaysia where the two, along with the other boat people, are forced to come ashore and are imprisoned. In this primitive Malaysian jail they meet Ling (Bai Ling) who becomes both their friend and their ticket out-onto another refugee boat, this one captained by the sullen and ruthless Captain Oh (Tim Roth). On the long voyage to New York, many of the boat people, including Tam, die. Alone in New York, Binh is put to work to pay for his voyage, until he realizes that he can escape the life he has there and do what he has come to the States to do-find his father. After hitchhiking to Texas, he eventually tracks down his father (Nick Nolte), who is living in a trailer and working as a handyman. In this film of startling performances, Nolte gives the most startling of all, and this final section of the film is perfection. Directed by Hans Petter Moland and shot by Stuart Dryburgh, this exotic, sweeping, film will reaffirm your belief in the power of the human spirit.
Hans Petter Moland, born in Oslo, Norway, studied at Emerson College in Boston. He has been working as a director for 20 years; as an auteur of commercials, his productions have won numerous prizes. The Beautiful Country is his fourth
feature; the other three are The Last Lieutenant, Zero Kelvin, and Aberdeen.