Movie review: ‘The Rocket’ details life in today’s Laos
Published: February 21, 2014 02:50PM
Updated: February 26, 2014 10:39AM
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Sitthiphon Disamoe plays Ahlo, a 10-year-old Laotian boy with a big dream, in the drama "The Rocket." Tom Greenwood | Courtesy Kino Lorber Films

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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HHH

‘The Rocket’

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