Nau Van returns home to Vietnam from USA after quite a few years. The occasion is his father's death anniversary and moving of his tomb. Joining him is Ian, his boyfriend, which no one is aware of. Ian is of Vietnamese origin and has been in US since he was a kid. Part of Van's plan is to also come out to his mom. The mother lives with 2 other sisters, one is married with 2 kids and other is single. Together all of them take care of Van's grandmother who has senile dementia. When introduced, granny thinks of Ian as her grandson and takes an instant liking for him. Meanwhile Van is helping out his mother, who apparently are not doing too well financially. He also later finds out that hi smother is dealing with diabetes. The whole family and neighbors all have just one question as to when Van will get married. One night when Van and Ian have a fight, Ian confides in the grandmother that Van is his boyfriend. The grandmother is happy that the boy is in love and doesn't judge. In a family function, she eventually tells everyone the news and the entire family is shocked. In fact in an unrelated incident, Ian gets beaten up also. The mother, usually silent doesn't say much but continues to shower love on both boys. Eventually it's time to go back to US. Van is heart broken that he is leaving his family behind with all the troubles and the news that he will not be getting married to a girl. He is sad that he will be going back to his happy content life in US, and meanwhile his family will have to deal with consequences of life, death, money and care.
The treatment of this film is very fresh and nice. I have always maintained that I connect very much with the whole family dynamics in Asia and Middle East and this is no different. All scenes with the grandmother are pure gold. When she wants Ian (Nau, in her mind) to sleep with him, or when Ian comes out to her, or when she says to Ian, if this doesn't work out, find some other boy and many many more like this). She is definitely the scene stealer of the film. Although the second half shifts more towards drama, the film never loses focus on 2 things. How Ian stands with Nau every step of the way to support him and love him and be there for him and similarly, how Nau tries to do the exact same thing for his family. The chemistry between the 2 boys is incredible and you really feel they are in love. The quite glances, the long gazes, and a couple of rare kisses all make them very relatable. Everything from their romantic scenes to their arguments and the tears feel genuine. And did I say how gorgeous they both are. The film is filled with love and also frustration at some levels. Thanks to a wonderful screenplay and direction, the film very real and organic. None of the drama, or indeed the comedy, feels forced. You can see the mothers struggle to balance her family obligations as the primary bread winner but also make sure she does the right thing by her son and also her mother. Her's is the most challenging life so to say. The film is visually very rich. For some reason, i liked this film a lot more than a lot of people otherwise it. I know the reasons for the personal connect but will leave it at there. The last scene of Ian and Van waiting at the airport, while tears trickling down Van's cheek is going to remain with me, just like the last scene of Call me By Your name'.
The film’s title, “Goodbye Mother”, means more than a parting adieu, but a farewell to one’s homeland. Because of his sexuality, not only Van has given up his Vietnamese citizenship, its unlikely he will ever come back and the ending brings tears to your eyes too. The film has impressed me a lot with its simplicity, sincerity & authenticity. The film deserves to be watched by a wider audience. (8/10)