The Quiet Vietnamese

She is the woman men want to possess, adore. She is also Vietnam in all its luscious beauty—a precious fruit the West has to get its hands on, to devour and defile. In The Quiet American, Phuong is as much metaphor as flesh. Yet the actress playing her must evoke the humanity and the hurt within a succulent love object. That is the sweet surprise of Do Thi Hai Yen's performance. With a smile that suggests duress and glances that murmur reproach, Yen speaks for Vietnam. "She suffers much," Yen says of Phuong, "but she keeps her...

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