TIFF 2023 Review: ‘Ru’ Is A Triumph!

Posted in TIFF 2023 by - September 12, 2023
TIFF 2023 Review: ‘Ru’ Is A Triumph!

A truly triumphant film absorbs the viewer completely; Ru is one such triumphant film. Directed by Charles-Olivier Michaud and based on the book of the same title by Kim Thúy, it tells the story of Tinh (Chloe Djandji), a girl born in South Vietnam who arrives in 1970s Montreal as a refugee. The daughter of a high-ranking South Vietnamese bureaucrat, Tinh and her family are what we know as “Boat People,” South Vietnamese migrants who risked their in the hopes of reaching safety.

Told from Ru’s perspective, the film deftly cuts between scenes of her family’s life in Vietnam and the young girl’s adjustment to living in Montreal. Stunningly shot, Ru excels at visual storytelling. There are plenty of striking images, such as when Ru’s family are forced by North Vietnamese soldiers to burn their books or a closeup on a mother nursing her baby aboard an overcrowded ship.

However, Ru‘s most searing image comes as her family struggle to board a tiny lifeboat in the middle of the ocean. Shot from under the water, the cinematography vividly captures the characters’ struggle to swim to the surface. When Ru and family are securely aboard the tiny vessel, her relieved mother (Chantal Thuy) holds her three children and cries out, “My babies”! Those two words, delivered beautifully by a tearful Thuy, capture more meaning than a Shakespearian monologue. Ru is, after all, a story about the trauma of losing one’s home, but it’s also about the will to survive.

This post was written by
Sarah Sahagian is a feminist writer based in Toronto. Her byline has appeared in such publications as The Washington Post, Refinery29, Elle Canada, Flare, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. She is also the co-founder of The ProfessionElle Society. Sarah holds a master’s degree in Gender Studies from The London School of Economics. You can find her on Twitter, where she posts about parenting, politics, and The Bachelor.
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