Every Breath You Take with Funan, on Home Video Dec 3rd!

2 Dec

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Release Date:
Dec 3rd, 2019

GKIDS & Shout! Factory

Funan is a deeply personal look into the life and times of Chou (voiced by Bérénice Bejo) when she faces more than a life separated from her family. Her story is based on writer/director Denis Do’s own experiences. It’s mostly about the stories his mother passed down. Her trials of wanting to reunite with her loved ones following the Cambodian uprising of the Khmer Rouge regime was difficult. This switch of power took place in April 1975 and lasted till 79.

Do hits a home run with the screenplay. The dialogue about how this new political party supposedly can do good seems brash. I see it as a conflict of one man’s ideals versus another’s in a matter of national pride. The English dub is reasonably well done, even though I switched to watching the French language version; translations can only go far and I wanted to see this work as it was originally intended. As I watched this heartbreaking movie, I can’t help but think the lyrics to The Police’s song, “Every Breath You Take” take on new meaning here. The story of love, loss and hope is every bit as powerful as the song because, quite literally, the new regime’s eyes are everywhere and ready to strike (for all the wrong reasons).

Chou hopes to one day reunite with husband and son. Just where they are is unknown. But as the grim reality sets upon her, the melancholic spirit the story projects is saddening. The soundtrack is exceptional in that regard and to feel for these characters—it gets digs deep into the heart.

The interview with Do in the home video release revealed he spent 20 years researching the back history. This dedication is admirable, and I see it in the colours brought out in showing what the country looks like on a happier day. The drawing style is neither anime nor manhua. This filmmaker’s philosophies are well expressed and like recent animations, they are not pushing the limits of what this medium can express. It’s simply giving breath to the life of what once was, and perhaps even more expensive to realize in reality than the drawn form.

The tough times Chou faced is not without the heartache. I’d rank it in the same emotional category that Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies fits in even though the context is very different. As for how this story concludes is bittersweet–but at least we learn more than one person survived.

Bonus Features

  • Interview with the Director
  • Art Gallery
  • Storyboards
  • Trailers
  • Q&A at Animation is Film Festival (Oct 19-21, 2018)

 

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