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The Return (1994 film)

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The Return
Directed byĐặng Nhật Minh
Written byĐặng Nhật Minh
StarringNguyễn Thu Hiền

Trần Lực

Mạnh Cường
Music byĐỗ Hồng Quân
CinematographyNguyễn Hữu Tuấn
Edited byTrần Anh Hoa
Vietnam Feature Film Studio, Channel 4 British Television
Release date
Running time
100 minutes

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The Return (Vietnamese: Trở về) is a 1994 film written and directed by the Vietnamese director Đặng Nhật Minh. It portrays the life of a North Vietnamese teacher who works in the South, her love experiences and her later unhappy married life. It centres around her journey of regaining control over her life and her personal aspirations and beliefs.

The film portrays daily life in post-war Vietnam, rooted strongly in its depictions of the Vietnamese lifestyle. Throughout the film, there are many shots of the environment such as the city streets with its abundance of motorcycles and bikes, as well as life in the Vietnamese home. These images create a collective image of Vietnamese-ness, which emphasises how the story is one that belongs to Vietnamese and in turn contributes in creating a shared identity as members of the Vietnamese imagined community(Benedict Anderson, 1983).

It shows society’s infatuation with development and western technology, notably economics, business and money; in other words, a western capitalist society. In pursuit of these, the past is swept aside. The Vietnamese who have died and the traditions and beliefs they embody are only seen as hindering modern progress and success.


The film opens with the protagonist Loan, a young woman from Hanoi, on a train to a South Vietnamese coastal town. She is a middle school language teacher and has been assigned to work in the South. There, she lives with her best friend who is also her colleague. When her room-mate’s brother, Hùng, comes to visit, she gets into a romantic relationship with him. The son of gold-trading parents and a subject of an arranged marriage, Hùng is a troubled man who has no choice over his own fate. He is forced to go abroad by his family and the romance between Hùng and Loan remains a brief one. On a trip back home in Hanoi, Loan meets Tuấn, an old high school sweetheart who has returned from studying abroad and is now an ambitious economic graduate. He actively pursues Loan and their love grows stronger. He listens to her previous love story and wants to help heal her heartbreak.

Three years later, Tuấn moves to the South with a good job. They marry and Loan quits her job to move to the city. Married life was very different for Loan. Tuấn forbids her to work, so everyday she stays home, reads books and plays with her puppy. Meanwhile, Tuấn is out, pursuing his career as a chief officer of a big company and rarely has time for Loan or home. He also forbids her to ask any questions regarding his work. As such, Tuấn and Loan began to lead separate lives that drifted further and further away from one other. This is especially evident when Loan’s father comes to visit to transport Loan’s brother, a war soldier’s grave back to their hometown. Tuấn’s main concern was to keep the ashes away from their home, as he didn’t want it to ruin his business. The film follows Loan’s emotional experiences as a married woman unhappily confined to the home.

Hùng, whose name is now Vincent Nguyen, returns to Vietnam on business. He becomes a big client of Tuấn’s, and is invited to dine at Tuấn’s home where Hùng and Loan meet frostily, the first time since they parted years ago.

Afterwards, Loan hears about her husband’s affair with his secretary and Loan finally decides to leave the marriage. She returns to her hometown and goes back to what she loves doing, teaching. Tuấn later seeks her out at the school but Loan has made up her mind and they go their separate ways.


  • Nguyễn Thu Hiền as Loan
  • Trần Lực as Tuấn
  • Mạnh Cường as Hùng


It was shown at the 36th Amiens International Film Festival (FIFAM) November 11th to 19th, 2016 as part of a retrospective programme to honour Đặng Nhật Minh’s life-long contribution to filmmaking.[1] These films were received with great enthusiasm by contemporary French Amiens audiences.[2]


It won the Special Jury Prize at the Asia-Pacific International Film Festival in Sydney in 1994.[3]


  1. Times, Vietnam (2016-10-25). "Director Dang Nhat Minh to join film icons at French fest". Vietnam Times. Retrieved 2021-05-22.
  2. NEWS, VIETNAM ECONOMIC (2017-03-02). "International film festival honors Vietnamese director". VIETNAM ECONOMIC NEWS (in Tiếng Việt). Retrieved 2021-05-22.
  3. ONLINE, TUOI TRE (2018-03-15). "Đặng Nhật Minh và sự nghiệp điện ảnh chưa có người thay thế". TUOI TRE ONLINE (in Tiếng Việt). Retrieved 2021-05-22.

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