Golden Globe Awards
By Michele Manelis
Published December 7, 2022
The Brilliant Darkness! is a Vietnamese drama that takes us to a funeral in which the deceased grandfather, who was assumed to be leaving his immense fortune to his family, has, in reality, left the family not only without any inheritance but in enormous gambling debt. Now they face impending danger from an unforgiving Mafia who have come to collect.
Co-written by the film’s director, Aaron Toronto and his partner in life and the film’s leading female actor, Nha Uyen Ly Nguyen, The Brilliant Darkness! also marks Nguyen’s debut as a leading actress. This is not the first project from this esteemed team. In 2015, they shared screenwriting duties on The Lost Dragon.
The film focuses on parental abuse in Vietnam, which has been described as a systemic problem in Vietnamese society. It is believed that, in order to be considered worthy, one must obey one’s parents – at any cost.
Nha Uyen told Broadway.com, “‘Filial piety’ (an attitude of respect for parents and ancestors in societies influenced by the Confucian way of thought) is ponderously important in Asian culture. It is so extreme that even if you openly reveal that your parents have wronged you or that your parents have done something bad, you are considered disobedient to them. Because you dared to shame them, you dared to make them feel disgraced in front of others. That is a great sin in Vietnamese society.”
An important film about a subject that is not widely talked about in Asian cultures, The Brilliant Darkness! has been described as “the most authentic Vietnamese film of 2022.” The acclaimed film took home five Vietnam Golden Kite Awards this year, including Best Feature Film, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay.
Toronto explained to Thebluntpost.com, “My wife and I wanted desperately to tell a story that would begin a discussion of how deep and terrible this problem is. Nha Uyen, who wrote the film with me and plays the lead role, has gone through abuse herself, and in large part is the inspiration for many of the characters and events in the film. Simply playing the lead role…has helped her work through some of the terrible demons inside her that still haunt her to this day.”