'The Scent of Green Papayas'

As evocative as its name, Tran Anh Hung's exquisite 1993 film recognizes that out of illusion can come reality. Although its re-creation of the streets and houses of prewar Vietnam was shot exclusively on a sound stage outside Paris, it is remarkably persuasive. And though there is no lack of incident or emotion in 'Papaya,' it is primarily a fable-like memory film in the unhurried pace of Vietnam past. This is symbolized by Mui, first glimpsed as a 10-year-old girl (Lu Man San, pictured) arriving in Saigon in 1951 to become a servant for a well-to-do family and who learns from older servant Thi (Nguyen Anh Hoa) what it means to perform ordinary tasks with delicacy and grace (Cinemax Friday at 6 a.m.).

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