AT THE HEIGHT OF SUMMER (Mua he chieu thang dung)


at-the-height-of-summer-mua-he-chieu-thang-dung-feb-21stSet in Hanoi, in the languorous heat of summer, three sisters come
together each year at the time of their mother’s death, to talk and share
secrets, but concealing some. Two of the sisters are married, but we
discover there are marital deceptions between each couple. The third
sister lives with their brother in an ambiguous relationship. “At the
Height of the Summer is a gently knowing look at tradition, ritual,
loyalty and gender roles in contemporary Vietnamese society, with first
rate performances from the cast.” Jason Wood, BBC Home. (Cert PG)
Dir: Tran Anh Hung 108 mins France/Vietnam 2000

Programme Notes

At the Height of Summer
(Mua he chieu thang dung)
France/ Vietnam 2000 108 minutes Cert. PG

At the Height of Summer is a beautifully made film set in Hanoi and the Vietnam countryside, and shot in high summer. The plot centres around three sisters who reminisce over their lives and romances whilst preparing food for a meal to honour their deceased mother.

We learn that there is a rumour their mother may have had an affair, so the husband of one of the sisters is sent off to investigate. However, the location is a place he has been to before and where he already has a child by another woman. Should he confess to this when he returns and equally should the other husband be open about the affairs he has when away on business trips?

The film explores the relationships between the two married sisters and their partners together with the strange relationship between the youngest sister and their brother.

Lien – Tran Nu Yên-Khê
Suong – Nguyen Nhu Quynh
Khanh – Le Khanh
Hai – Ngo Quang Hai
Quoc – Chu Hung
Kien – Tran Manh Cuong
Tuan – Le Tuan Anh
Huong – Le Ngoc Dung

Director – Tran Anh Hung
Screenplay – Tran Anh Hung
Original Music – Tiêt Tôn-Thât
Cinematography – Ping Bin Lee
Film Editor – Mario Battistel
Producer – Christophe Rossignon

“Gentle, ravishingly beautiful and awash in everyday sensuality.” Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times.

“Tran Anh Hung shows a real feeling for what can only be described as the poetry of the cinema. Unashamedly, unapologetically, he is striving towards an exegesis of beauty on screen” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian.

At the Height of Summer is a gently knowing look at tradition, ritual, loyalty, and gender roles in contemporary Vietnamese society, with first rate performances from the cast.” Jason Wood, BBC Home.


“Strangely compelling, lovely colours, wonderful people. Didn’t really follow it but it was OK, really!”

“A touch of the Ken Russell’s! A beautifully shot film, with haunting, sleep-inducing music. I think I followed most of what was going on.”

“A beautiful film but completely incomprehensible”

“Very beautiful but what was it all about?”

“Beautifully shot, if rather slow”

“Beautiful images and music but very slow”

“Not slow at all!”

“Taking into account that the plot wasn’t rocket science and the ending came as an abrupt surprise, the film was an elegantly made domestic drama. There was something for anyone who liked food, photography and writing.”

“Some fine camera angles and lovely colours but seemed longer than it was – Archipelago in Vietnam?”

“Some style but no substance”

“All style but little content. Strong on room furnishings, dresses and hair-dos. Got them more or less sorted out by the end.”

“Or leaving [illegible] but good photography”

“Photography and scenery very good”

“Disjointed. Like the curate’s egg – good in parts.”

“I didn’t know what to make of this film. I didn’t not enjoy it but it left me without anything substantial to say. Found some parts very confusing.”

“The ideal cure for insomnia!”

“Too ponderous for me but I liked the idea of a wife who wanted to make love but wouldn’t talk. What a fantasy!”

“Not interesting enough – sometimes less is less.”

“Very disappointing. Terribly repetitive but strangely baffling wrt going on. Great soundtrack, though!”

“Only the French would take 96 people to a rain-soaked country to tell the story of six anonymous characters doing nothing!”


A:3, B:14, C:14, D:4, E:1 to give 60%