A young boy, Ahlo (Sitthiphon Disamoe), is believed by his grandma to bring bad luck to the world as he is the survivor of a twin birth. Loved deeply by his mother and brought up roughly by a father who is unaware of the dead sibling, Ahlo leads a happy existence in his village in Laos. When the family is forced to move to a corporate sponsored shanty town to make way for a new dam, the blame is laid squarely on Ahlo’s shoulders by his grandma, who sets out to prove he is not a cursed child by entering a popular and highly dangerous rocket competition.
Written and directed by Kim Mordaunt, The Rocket is a staggeringly beautiful and touching film. One which requires multiple viewings just to take it all in. It’s hard to really pinpoint the one thing that really sells it, so strong are all the parts that make up the whole. Disamose and nine year old Loungnam Kaosainam (playing Ahlo’s friend Kia) easily putting actors three times their age to shame with their nuanced performances. Also making a strong impression is Suthep Po-ngam as Purple. Played at times as an alcoholic buffoon in a purple suit with a fondness for James Brown, Po-ngam let’s the façade crack to reveal glimpses of the tortured soul beneath.
Playing like a children’s story for grown ups, it’s a shame that The Rocket has missed out on even being nominated for an Oscar. Which highlights how ridiculous this award shows can be. Captivating, heart-breaking and, at times, incredibly funny, The Rocket is a film that deserves to cherished by all.
It’s quite simply one of the most perfect films we’ve borne witness to.