Three sisters living in Hanoi, Vietnam, appear to be centered around happy relationships. The eldest sister and her husband are overjoyed to discover that she is pregnant, although her husband has been tempted by another woman. The middle sister is married to a man who is revealed to have another life including a woman and child elsewhere, to whom he loves just as much as his wife. The youngest sister lives with her older brother whom she is hopelessly in love with. Whilst preparing for the anniversary of their mothers death, truths begin to be told.

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For sheer beauty of frame and scene it's hard to go past The Vertical Ray of the Sun.

This exquisitely measured film is about a family of three sisters and a brother. It's about intimacy, love and infidelity.

The youngest sister Lien (played by the director's partner Tran Nu Yen), lives with her brother Hai (Ngo Quang Hai), and she has a playful, wistfully incestuous relationship with him. She works in the cafe run by her oldest sister Suong whose photographer husband has intimate affairs elsewhere. Suong herself has a strange silent affair going with another man. The third sister has doubts about her husband's fidelity when he goes to Saigon on family business.

This is a film more about moments and theme than plot. For sheer beauty of frame and scene it's hard to go past The Vertical Ray of the Sun. The composition is exquisite in terms of colour, design and framing, the thematic use of water blends into each moment. You know that every single detail has been overseen by an aesthetic master. This is not a Hollywood action movie, the distance from that particular genre is great. But at the same time within his own time, within his aesthetics Tran portrays in intimate detail personal aspirations and doubts in an insidiously affecting way.

It's hard to walk out of The Vertical Ray of the Sun unaffected by this riff on family and love.

Comments from David Stratton:
Exquisitely photographed film and a refreshing change after Tran's violent Cyclo, this story of three sisters explores universal themes of love and sibling rivalry.