The film Three Seasons, a collage of small stories from modern Saigon, aroused contradictory feelings in me. The opening sequence was ravishing: at dawn in a blossom-covered lake surrounding a disused temple from some much earlier incarnation of Vietnam, girls wearing straw hats float in frail canoes, their thin clear voices raised in song as they reap ivory buds from the green leaves and glossy water. The scene was so intensely synaesthetic that I could smell the lotus, and I left the theatre desperate to stop and buy white flowers. Much of the film's narrative is pure saccharine, however. A high-class whore is spiritually and physically healed by the true love and folk medicine dispensed by a lowly pedicab driver (you know he's a good guy because when he buys her for the night he just watches her sleep—in a chaste cotton nightie he's bought for an occasion not meant to be kinky). A simple flower girl's innate goodness restores a leprous poet's voice. A tiny urchin loses, then recovers his gimcrack merchandise; back in business, he pursues his hard-work ethic and turns a stiff little back on the futureless play of other displaced street kids. Around the corner, a former GI drunkenly seeks and finds the daughter he abandoned twenty years earlier. The movie starts with tight white buds and ends with red blossoms falling—you get the idea. The suggestion that traditional values provide the sure cure for modern unease (not to mention disease!) is facile, and the crude subtitled translations do not match the faces that speak from the screen. These churlish responses formed slowly in me, however, and strangely enough they didn't distract me from the visual and emotional pleasures of this gentle, leisurely film.