Vinyan (2008) starring Emmanuelle Béart, Rufus Sewell, Petch Osathanugrah, Julie Dreyfus, Amporn Pankratok directed by Movie Review

Vinyan (2008)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Emmanuelle Béart as Jeanne Bellmer in Vinyan (2008)

Béart's Lost Children

I am not entirely sure about "Vinyan" as I am not entirely sure who it is targeting. It starts with a captivating drama about a couple who are struggling with the loss of a child, it then evolves into this very artsy exploration of a jungle, beautifully shot but painfully slow before then becoming a disturbing horror movie. That combination of drama, arthouse and horror is for me a strange mix making a slow movie which may have audiences enjoying some bits and disliking others. And that is the problem with "Vinyan" this mix whilst giving the movie some individually stunning elements just don't work together.

6 months after their son was presumed killed in a tsunami things are still difficult for Jeanne (Emmanuelle Béart - Mission: Impossible) and Paul Bellmer (Rufus Sewell - The Illusionist) as they try to move on with their lives. But at a charity event Jeanne is convinced she saw her son in footage filmed deep in the Myanmar jungle and whilst doubting Paul agrees to pay for them to be snuck into the forbidden area. Heading in to the jungle under the guidance of trafficker Thaksin Gao (Petch Osathanugrah) things start to turn strange and nasty as they encounter things they have never seen before.

Rufus Sewell as Paul Bellmer in Vinyan (2008)

For me you can split "Vinyan" into 3 parts a drama, an arthouse movie and then a horror and for me the first part is the best. Now you could compare this first part to other movies where parents are desperately searching for a lost child especially "The Emerald Forest" but there is a deeper reality to this. Watching the range of emotions which come from Jeanne as a glimmer of hope leads to desperation is magnificent as is how Paul whilst doubting will do anything to help his wife, having personally brought closure to the loss of his son. If the whole of "Vinyan" had stayed in the same style it would have ended up a magnificent, gritty and emotional drama.

Then "Vinyan" evolves because as the story focuses on Paul and Jeanne's journey into the jungle it becomes more arthouse and it is beautiful. The shots of the misty, steamy and dirty jungle as well as the broken huts of various villages is spectacular and watching light stream through cracks to half illuminate faces is magnificent. In fact I would say it is some of the best jungle scenes I have seen but at the same time it becomes arduously slow. Now the first part of "Vinyan" was slow but it had drama, this second part is just slow and despite various hallucination scenes lacks the drama to spice it up.

But then "Vinyan" evolves again and becomes horror as Jeanne and Paul find them selves deep in the jungle and surrounded by a tribe of feral children. And trust me "Vinyan" has a very disturbing side with some powerful scenes of visual horror and suggestive horror which work brilliantly for horror fans. But this horror segment is very different to what has gone before except for the fact it is again slow going.

What is for sure is that whilst the blend of drama, artsy and horror makes for a movie which I am sure will be a struggle for some audiences the acting through out is first rate. Both Emmanuelle Béart and Rufus Sewell bring their characters to live be it through the drama of dealing with a lost child, the confusion of being lost in a jungle right through to the unsettling horror of the end which Béart comes into her own delivering a very psychologically unsettling moment which I will be honest feels wrong.

What this all boils down to is that "Vinyan" is a movie of three well made parts; a fascinating drama, some beautiful artsy cinematography and really unsettling horror. But it is three parts which end up failing to work together and rather than being a compelling movie it ends up slow and sporadically entertaining.