The Long Walk

It’s been fifty years since the installation of the first solar panels by a well-intentioned but misguided foreign aid organisation, the villagers having no use for electricity, to the supersonic jets breaking the sound barrier overhead and payments routinely authorised and transferred via subdermal chip, yet some things have remained the same: still the dead girl accompanies him each day on the long walk.

As a boy kicking a plastic bottle along the dirt road he had followed a trail of blood and found her dying just beyond the roadside by the wreckage of her ruined motorcycle; his father left, his mother died, the boy got older and became a man who sold scrap for cash, but still the girl was unchanged, a silent companion who set him down the path which earned him a reputation as one who could find the dead.

Directed by Mattie Do, the daughter of Lao refugees, from a script by Christopher Larsen, The Long Walk (Bor Mi Vanh Chark) is their third feature collaboration following Chanthaly and Dearest Sister (Nong Hak), again set in her homeland and returning to themes of family and visions of the dead and what can be learned from them, if anything.

Starring Yannawoutthi Chanthalungsy as the old man and Por Silatsa as the boy, the stilted hut in which he lives as a hermit and the dirt road leading to it remain the same even as the world beyond his village moves forward, yet across time the girl (Noutnapha Soydara) is tied to the place where she died and the shrine the man maintains, able to take the older man back to see his childhood self, attempting to reshape events to something less tragic.

Existing in stasis, moving through time but always the same strip of road, the old man of The Long Walk has more in common with the dead with whom he shares his life than the other villagers who only seek him when they need his rumoured ability, the disappearance of the old noodle seller bringing her daughter Lina (Vilouna Phetmany) from the capital Vientiane seeking to make peace with her ghost for leaving her, forgiveness and answers meaning more to her than money.

A recursive oddity of stiff-limbed inertia and regret, the old man notices changes in his present, the broken glass front of a cabinet, the circumstances of his father’s abandonment, but the path he has laid for himself leads only to sadness, the ghosts of the departed uncommunicative and the precise path to the future malleable but its ultimate destination foretold, the same for him as for all the women he has tried to help and all the souls he has bound to himself.

The Long Walk will be available on Digital Download from Monday 28th February



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