The Rocket is a collaboration between Screen Australia and film producers in Laos. We do not see many, if any, films from Laos about Laotian people and their way of life.
The central character is a young boy, Ahlo, played engagingly by Sitthiphon Disamoe. In the prologue to the film, we are introduced to animist-type religious behaviour with a grandmother carrying the head of an ox to a ritual shrine. It is for the safe birthing of the little boy. The process is complex and the mother delivers twins, one of whom is stillborn, which moves the grandmother to conceal his existence and decide that the living boy is cursed.
After some years, the boy and his family are living a quiet but poor existence in their village, he catching fish and selling them in the market. But fliers are handed out to indicate that a second dam is being built in the vicinity and that their valley will be flooded. The people generally accept their fate and begin to move. During the film a tragedy occurs which has repercussions on the family.
They try to settle, but are continually moved on until they reach a village where there is a rocket competition. The rockets are being fired into the air as a ritual praying for rain for their drought stricken region.
The rocket competition has its amusing side, especially as the young boy decides that he is going to build a rocket to beat all others, to get some money and some land so that the family will not hurt goes there to the city to work in factories back and stay in the land. The grandmother is a harsh and critical old woman – she could well have been in the rocket and fired into space! This review will not spoil the ending but there will be no need for handkerchiefs and tears - Peter Malone, ACFOB
Starring Sitthiphon Dimasoe and Loungnam Kaosainam. Directed by Kim Mordaunt. 90 minutes. Rated M (Mature themes and nudity)