Dreamy Eyes is Very Sweet

Posted on July 29, 2021 by Richard Goulter

I watched “Dreamy Eyes” on Netflix.
I recommend it. It’s (at times) intensely romantically sweet. Although it doesn’t have a happy ending.
(Well, without a happy ending I suppose “angsty” is more apt than “sweet”).

It’s a drama set in Vietnam during the 1960s - 1970s. The main character has an unrequited love for his childhood friend.

In a sense, the “unrequited love interest over decades” reminds me of “Gone with the Wind”.
In another sense, it’s very similar to Jenny’s story in “Forrest Gump”. (I think “Dreamy Eyes” does a better job. I think “Forrest Gump”’s tone misses “life can be funny and tragic”, and in doing so dampens the heft to what ought to have been some very impactful scenes).

On the other hand, I don’t think you’re really supposed to behave in the same manner as any of the characters in the story. The way they all behave is understandable; but at the same time, the story is so dramatic that it’s all a bit silly. (For example, the main character’s love remains unrequited for decades. Maybe this can be called sweet; but another girl has a completely unreciprocated admiration for the main character that persists for decades too. That’s just silly).

Silliness aside.. I think the situations and characters presented and the actions taken are interesting.

e.g. The story features tones of rural vs urban/modern culture. The main character and the girl he loves grew up together in the same village; but she grows more interested in the attractions of the city.
What I found enhances this tension was the status symbolism of American products. e.g. When the main character reunites with his sweetheart after she has moved to the city, his sweetheart’s mother offers a tin of butter cookies (announcing that these can’t be found in the village), before she drives her car to the disco.

I’ve also found myself thinking about the drama in the film, too. I know having to analyse as story is the easiest way to take the fun out of hearing it.. but I also don’t find it so clear where I’d draw the line each of the characters cross from “yeah, that seems fine” to “no, that’s not the good life”.
e.g. I don’t think it spoils too much to reveal that the main character’s love interest gets pregnant out of wedlock. Nothing wicked about that. But e.g. later on in the story, there’s an incident where the love interest walks with a charming date into her store, and doesn’t acknowledge her daughter who had been waiting for her for hours.
The love interest isn’t an easy character to like. (Or as I saw it put once, “you’re not supposed to like the character the same way you like hotdogs”).

But really, what I like about this is the intense romantic angst of the story. We see a sweet romance the main character has as he grows in the village, and we see him return to the same village as an adult and walk the same paths and it just has such an impressive impact.

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