In the midst of achieving our ambitions and desires, we must never lose track of our humble beginnings. Embodying the meaning of finding one’s true self, Australian Vietnamese director Jon Bling captures the screen with his latest transnational film. Befitting of the title, ‘Never Forget’ features the journey of a young woman who’s caught between intercultural and intergenerational gaps as she returns to her homeland of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam after 10 long years.
The story begins with young Australian Vietnamese nurse, Kim (Ann Truong) who receives news about the passing of her estranged father. Faced with the dilemma of leaving her patients and comfortable lifestyle, she inevitably decides to head home for reconciliation and healing with her separated family. Upon arriving in Ho Chi Minh City, Kim doesn’t reunite with her older brother at first, but instead, encounters a long forgotten extended family friend, Bao (Tam Dinh). Acting as her local guide around the now foreign land, Bao tries to re-introduce her once more to her birthplace.
As the story progresses, we see Kim’s internal struggle as she feels lost and disconnected from the surrounding culture that was once hers. With overwhelming emotions and high tensions, the battle within Kim becomes a reoccurring theme throughout the film to represent the perspective of someone growing up in a Westernised generation. Be it Kim’s complete bilingual dialogues between English and Vietnamese, or the difference between the metropolitan cities in Australia with the scenic farm life in Vietnam, it thoroughly enlightens us with what it means to be an intercultural person in today’s hybridised world.
After a heated argument with Bao, strong-headed Kim ventures alone into the vast streets of Vietnam. Walking astray, she experiences firsthand the dark and unseen parts of the country, however, Bao comes to her rescue in the nick of time. Finally, grateful to have him by her side, Kim’s cold demeanour soon fades away as she slowly rediscovers herself and what was forgotten is remembered. As she plays nostalgic card games and listens to old romance songs, Kim begins to slowly open up to herself and to her frivolous family friend, Bao.
Kim has to decide which place she calls her true home – the place where she grew up loving or a place where she has grown to love? Director Jon Bling created this piece of art as a strong reminder for the next generation of Vietnamese kids in this Westernised world to never forget who they truly are and where they come from.