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This is the debut feature film for director Davy Chou, whose previous film was the documentary Golden Slumbers looking at the systematic destruction of the once thriving Cambodian film industry under the repressive Khmer Rouge regime. Diamond Island looks at the growing divide between the rich and the poor and life in the city and the country in contemporary Cambodia. Youths leave their home in the country and migrate to the city where they find menial work on construction sites, building the luxury apartment blocks for the city's elite. Our central character here is Bora(Sobon Nuon), who has left his family farm behind and moved to Phnom Penh. He reconnects with his estranged older brother who moved to the city five years earlier. He tells Bora about his mysterious American sponsor who looks after him and provides him with a good life. We never meet the sponsor and there is something vaguely unsettling about the nature of his relationship. We mainly see events through Bora's eyes. Chou's style here is low key and he maintains a deliberate and measured pace. The film lacks narrative momentum and not a lot happens on screen. But this stylish looking film is a social portrait and offers plenty of revealing and intimate insights into life in Cambodia today and gives us a glimpse into a society in transition. It has been handsomely shot by cinematographer Thomas Favel (who worked with Chou on his documentary).
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