Un soir après la guerre (One Evening after the War). 1998. Belgium/Cambodia/France/Switzerland. Directed by Rithy Panh. Screenplay by Panh, Ève Deboise. With Chea Lyda Chan, Rouen Narith, Ratha Keo, Sra N’Gath Kheav, Peng Phan. In Khmer; English subtitles. 108 min.
Rithy Panh’s beautiful and underappreciated fiction feature is a fragile romance and crime drama set in Phnom Penh shortly after Pol Pot’s reign of terror. In this new Cambodia of thuggery, corruption, and moral despair, two lovers wander like dead souls: he (Narith Roeun), a kickboxer tormented by his years as a soldier fighting against the Khmer Rouge that murdered most of his family, and she (Chea Lyda Chan), a bar girl sold into prostitution by her poor peasant family. “Roeun and Chan have great screen presence and memorable chemistry….[and] Panh keeps his material fresh and engrossing, with a rich weave of incidents and characters illustrating the paradoxes of life in a country trying desperately to renew itself” (Godfrey Cheshire, Variety). Courtesy JBA Production