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Movie review: 'The Rocket' details life in today's Laos

Published February 21, 2014 2:50 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Billed as the first feature film set and shot in Laos, "The Rocket" is an engrossing drama about the shifting sands on which a family and a culture must find their footing.

The story's focus is on Ahlo (Sitthiphon Disamoe), a 10-year-old who is considered bad luck by his superstitious grandmother Taitok (Bunsri Yindi), especially so when Ahlo's mother, Mali (Alice Keohavong), is killed during a forced relocation due to a new hydroelectric dam upstream from their village.

As Ahlo's father, Toma (Sumrit Warin), seeks a new place to live, Ahlo thinks he's found the solution: Win a nearby town's annual rocket festival, which offers a big cash prize to the rocketeer whose projectile flies the highest.

Australian writer-director Kim Mordaunt neatly captures the small details of Laotian life, of village shrines and unexploded bombs, as global progress smacks into local traditions.

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'The Rocket'

Opens Friday, Feb. 21, at the Tower Theatre; not rated, but probably R for nudity, a childbirth scene, violence and crude humor; in Lao, with subtitles; 92 minutes.