Picks and Pans Review: Don't Cry, It's Only Thunder

updated 04/26/1982 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/26/1982 AT 01:00 AM EDT

This frequently touching film is set in Vietnam in 1968 and centers on an Army PFC, Dennis (Breaking Away) Christopher. He is passing his time in Saigon with drugs, liquor and black-market dealing until he meets a mute Vietnamese orphan. She leads him to a struggling orphanage. Christopher enlists an Army doctor (Susan Saint James) to help him care for its children. Though few cinematic clich├ęs are left unturned, the film maintains a sense of authenticity. It is based on the real experiences of screenwriter Paul Hensler, who served as an Army medic in Saigon, and the cast includes 70 Vietnamese children recruited from a refugee center in the Philippines. Mai Thi Lien, 10, who plays the mute, is particularly affecting; so is Christopher. This is an impressive first feature by director Peter Werner, who won a 1976 Oscar for his short In the Region of Ice. (PG)

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