<p> "Set in modern Hanoi, Adrift is a sensual, intimate and atmospheric drama about a newlywed couple that explores sexual awakening, lesbian desire and marital infidelity. These topics are still largely taboo in conservative Vietnam, but due to the country's transition from communism to a form of capitalism, the rapidly changing economic reality means a shift in social mores. Nevertheless, age-old traditions are still largely observed, especially with regard to the sacred ritual of marriage.
The film opens with the wedding of Duyen and Hai, both in their early twenties. Hai, the groom, is a taxi driver. Constantly doted on by his controlling mother, he remains pure at heart – almost childlike. The beautiful Duyen assumes her role as the wife, but it becomes clear that, though they are fond of each other, the pair have little in common. Hai's sexual inexperience also means their marriage remains unconsummated.
Duyen's best friend, Cam, is a writer. Older and wiser, she is also quietly in love with Duyen – though she knows her feelings are forbidden by society. For reasons both selfish and otherwise, she orchestrates a plan to have Duyen seduced by a man named Tho. The scheme works, but it only plunges Cam deeper into her loneliness.
Director Bui Thac Chuyen skilfully uses languid takes to highlight the emptiness and solitude of the characters, while slowly expanding the story to encompass a whole cast of fascinating personalities. Even more remarkable are the moments of sheer eroticism – all subtly executed with nary a glimpse of flesh. The top-flight cast, which includes The Quiet American's lead actress Do Thi Hai Yen, The Rebel's Jonny Tri Nguyen and Linh-Dan Phamof Indochine and The Beat That My Heart Skipped, admirably sustain the film's delicate, muted tone.
Bui, along with screenwriter Phan Dang Di and others, is leading a new artistic renaissance in Vietnamese cinema. Perhaps Adrift is just ahead in the floodgates."
Quoting Raymond Phathanavirangoon on the 2009 TIFF site </p>