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From: Mark Leeper <mleeper@optonline.net>
Subject: Review: First They Killed My Father (2017)
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Subject: Review: First They Killed My Father (2017)
From: Mark Leeper <mleeper@optonline.net>
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               (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    CAPSULE: This is an epic yet personal story, a memoir 
    of one very young girl.  Loung Ung, who survived in 
    Cambodia when the violently militant Khmer Rouge 
    controlled much of the populace.  The narrative is 
    just as vicious and painful as the title suggests it 
    to be.  Angelina Jolie directs from a script by she 
    herself coauthored with the real Loung Ung.  Rating: 
    +3 (-4 to +4) or 9/10

FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER begins with the American armed forces 
invading Cambodia in the name of "helping the Cambodians help 
themselves" as Richard Nixon put it in documentary footage.  The 
film quickly jumps to the day that the Americans pulled out of 
Southeast Asia, both Vietnam and Cambodia.

There is momentary jubilation in Cambodia that the Americans are 
gone but almost immediately the Khmer Rouge, communist guerillas in 
red scarves, take control and abolish any private property and 
private life.  The Khmer Rouge was the Cambodian Communist 
guerrilla organization that controlled much of the country and 
killed the opposition. In the name of the people they enslaved the 
people with murderous unrestrained brutality.

Loung Ung's family loses their home and all their private 
possessions.  Everything is owned communally but young Loung sees 
these things being taken from her family and only the barest 
necessities of life coming back.  Guns are confiscated and held so 
the Khmer Rouge are the only ones armed.  Ung's family is driven 
from the city, Phnom Penh, to the country side where they are 
expected to farm the dry ground if they want to eat.  Worse is to 
come.  We see all this through the eyes of Ung who tells her 
memories of life under the rule of the Khmer Rouge.  Ung is played 
by Sareum Srey Moch behind a passive face that helps to make the 
emotion all the more poignant. 

The film was made for Netflix Streaming and is already in release.  
It is reminiscent of the film BEASTS OF NO NATION of a year ago.  
Both are about threats to and hardship of the innocent--
particularly of the young--in times of war.  Netflix distributed 
both films.  Because the film shows the barbarity of the Khmer 
Rouge in the lives of the innocent it might also be compared to THE 
KILLING FIELDS (1985).  The story of THE KILLING FIELDS' Dith Pran 
and of this film's Loung Ung start to converge as both use the same 
image to inform the character that the ordeal is over.  Because the 
film is long-ish and covers a lot of geography it gives the film 
something of an epic feel.

If the title is foreboding you will find the story no less so, 
though the horrors are spread wider but no thinner.  I rate FIRST 
THEY KILLED MY FATHER a +3 on the -4 to +4 scale or 9/10.
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					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2017 Mark R. Leeper