Starring: Ninh Duong Lan Ngoc, Chi Tai, Mai The Hiep
Director: Dustin Nguyen
Running Time: 92 mins
Jackpot (Trúng Số) is a Vietnamese film about a lottery ticket vendor who comes across a winning ticket, she faces a dilemma as she must decide whether to sell it as required or keep it for herself.
It may seem like an easy-going, throwaway comedy, but there really isn’t all that much to Jackpot to make it an entertaining movie. While it has a light-hearted atmosphere and a couple of pleasant performances, the film is generally fairly amateurish, and with poor dialogue and a very shallow story throughout, it proves a disappointing and really rather dull watch.
Now, you may be thinking that Vietnam isn’t the world’s greatest movie-making country, so we should cut them a little bit of slack when comparing to the likes of Hollywood. Well, it’s certainly true that the country doesn’t have the immense experience of others when it comes to the movie business, but as seen with brilliant films like Go-Go Sisters, that doesn’t mean there’s no chance for real gems to come out of Vietnam, making Jackpot seem all the more mediocre.
On the bright side, the movie does have a simple and light-hearted enough atmosphere to prove easy-going, and it at least doesn’t ever overplay the dramatic side to its story, with the central dilemma faced by our main character and everything that goes on around her not ever coming across as overly dramatic or important.
As a result, the film is a pleasant watch at times, and with a lovely lead performance from Ninh Duong Lan Ngoc, it does have the capacity to make you smile from time to time, but in general, there’s very little else to it to really impress.
Above all, it really struggles with its characters. Frustratingly content with just showing you a couple of cards on screen detailing who the main characters are, there’s very little opportunity for you to get to know the people involved in the story, and that makes it all the more difficult to care about what’s going on when the film tries to appeal to your emotions.
What’s more is that because it thinks it’s established the characters within the first two minutes, the film drops you right in the middle of a society that you’re still not all that sure about, and there’s nowhere near enough exposition or background as to what’s going on and who is who, making the first act in particular a rather confusing state of affairs.
Also, a lot of the film’s dialogue comes across as painfully amateurish. Although I can’t speak for the original Vietnamese screenplay, the general feel of the dialogue throughout, as well as the English translation for it, is really clunky, and the way that the characters converse with one another feels as if they’re acting in a far more official capacity than the slice of life atmosphere the film is trying to create, occasionally interspersed with the odd jarring ‘Hey man’ to make things stranger.
Overall, I wasn’t particularly enamoured by Jackpot. It can be a light-hearted and pleasant watch at times, but it’s generally a less-than-stellar work, with poorly developed characters, clunky dialogue, and a shallow story that never really grabs your attention at any point, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.2.