What a truly great film this is. The other half picked up a bunch of DVDs the other day - 10 for $20 - and this was in the pile. I'd never heard of it but that's not surprising. I miss a lot of stuff when it first comes out.
"Bui doi" is the racist insult Binh must endure. It means "less than dust" and is given to Vietnamese children of American fathers. Binh's story is an immigrant's story but it's also a kind of homecoming. Which is to say he belongs here (in the U.S.) in part because he's so marginalized in the country of his birth. There's a scene where Captain Oh (played by Tim Roth), the captain of a slave ship that's taking Binh to America, turns to Binh and says:
I've been thinking about you.I love that.
You've never really had any fun, have you?
Binh: Never had a good time.
Captain Oh: You should go somewhere new.
Go somewhere clean. Get a new start.
You should go to...
Binh: I go to America.
Captain Oh: I offer you a new life, you choose an old dream.
The Beautiful Country isn't perfect. At times it almost feels like an allegory (not that there's anything wrong with that) but it's grittiness gives a realism that saves Binh and his story from being merely symbolic.
Make a point of seeing this movie. It'll be 2 hours well spent.