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133 Ratings

Diamond Island

Directed by Davy Chou
Cambodia, France, 2016


Diamond Island is a symbol of Cambodia’s future, a sprawling, ultra-modern paradise for the rich on the river in Phnom Penh. Like many other country boys, Bora, 18, is lured from his village to work on the construction of this property developers’ dream.

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Diamond Island Directed by Davy Chou
Clad in bright costumes, and lit by cell phone screens and colourful LED lights, Chou’s cast of nonprofessional actors carry magnetic screen presence, and the film drifts along on its sense of cool, as its characters ride into the night on their motorcycles, heading into an uncertain future, accompanied by a pulsing electronic score. Understated, the film leaves much to ponder about the relentless march of progress, and the countervailing pull back to the past.
June 22, 2017
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Above all, Diamond Island registers as a mood piece, though the moods it conjures are as multifaceted as the emotions Bora feels as he navigates the two economic realities of his daily life. The emphasis throughout on neon colors in nighttime scenes… is seductive enough to suggest what it is about the big city that attracts Bora, while the synthesizer-heavy drones of Jérémie Arcache and Christophe Musset’s score, to some degree, counteract that glamour with a sense of underlying melancholy.
March 14, 2017
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If the story seems familiar, even generic, Diamond Island makes up for that with its fully-drawn characters, the intimate observations of their lives, and the honest lamentation of the place and the people that are going through uncertainty. With its deliberate rhythm, the film has an immediacy of fate — of something that’s about to happen to Bora, to Solei, and to all the young people toiling away in mud to bring to life the promise of diamond.
May 18, 2016
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