The Laotian drama “The Long Walk” takes a languid look around a near-future dystopia where fighter jets leave smoke trails in the sky and government authorities track missing people using microchips embedded in their bodies. In this reality, a spiritual, occult world exists underneath the noses of officials.
The movie follows an unnamed protagonist (Yannawoutthi Chanthalungsy), an isolated older man known by the people in his town as someone who can communicate with the dead and find people who have gone missing.
But what the medium’s clients don’t know is that he also helps women who are sick and desperate for relief from life’s hardships facilitate their own deaths. When a young woman (Vilouna Phetmany) seeks him out for guidance in finding her missing mother, she doesn’t know that the body he leads her to is one he buried himself.
The hermit travels along the road connecting life and death, accompanied by ghosts and in possession of powers that allow him to visit and potentially alter his own past. Yet despite the high concepts that drive the film’s story, its writer and director, Mattie Do, does not overburden the movie with exposition or explanations.
She sets a leisurely pace, pausing to watch how the humid air interacts with the smoke from the shaman’s vape pen. The atmosphere here is dense with textural detail and requires patience to sift through the layers of meaning that are packed into each frame. The reward for waiting for the fog to lift is a movie that presents a unique take on science fiction, one that looks for the ghosts that linger on in a world that has been shaped by technology.
The Long Walk
Not rated. In Lao, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 56 minutes. Rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.