Monsoon is about Kit, who left Vietnam as a child with his parents as refugees, returning home after a life in England, to scatter his parents’ ashes. The sense of dislocation he feels in the economically booming and modernising Saigon is tempered somewhat by the company of Louis, an African-American entrepreneur, who he meets for a hook-up, but which deepens into something more.
The film starts with this real feeling of alienation, as Kit tries to retrace his steps through barely recalled memories to sites important to him and his parents, only to discover they are unrecognisable. He visits a cousin and is unable to speak any Vietnamese to his aunt. Instead of a homecoming, he feels just like any other tourist.
And that playing with in/out idententies is a theme throughout the film. He brings his cousin shortbread in royal wedding biscuit tin, and then cringes at himself for being such a Westerner. He gets clocked as Vietnamese by a white French guy, who speaks in slow and clear English to him, despite English being his one and only language. And he feels like the war is almost irrelevant to who he is now, but rankles when Louis makes a typically American remark about how hard it was on American soldiers.
As the movie progresses however, that sense of dislocation from the past is replaced more and more with connection in the present. Vietnam is a place with a future, as is possibly his relationship with Louis.