What you need to know
'The Good Daughter' depicts Azhe’s defiance as she's caught up in capitalism, patriarchy, and racism.
For 10 months, Sally Wu filmed Azhe, a Vietnamese woman married to a man named Long. They live in rural Taiwan and both work as garlic farmers. Azhe also works at an oyster farm sometimes.
The Good Daughter is far from a romantic story: Azhe had a boyfriend in Vietnam before she was a foreign bride — sold for NT$20,000.
For NT$20,000, clients in Taiwan can purchase a Vietnamese bride through a matchmaker. But Azhe’s defiance came as a surprise to her mother-in-law.
Wu traveled between Taiwan and Vietnam for the documentary. In Vietnam, Azhe’s father talks about the war with the United States and the economic repercussions on the country. This is the first piece of the puzzle, explaining why Azhe had to leave Vietnam in the first place.
Among the reasons Azhe goes to work are Taiwan harsh economic realities, as salaries are higher than in Vietnam. But while wages in Taiwan are slightly higher, workers from less privileged countries are still expected to earn less than Taiwanese workers.
Azhe’s father explains that if he married his daughter to a Vietnamese man, she would only take care of her husband’s family. Ironically, Azhe is also stuck caring for her two young children in Vietnam and Long’s family in Taiwan. The pressure on Azhe is immense as she has to worry about her parents back home while facing abusive comments from her mother-in-law.
Filial piety weighs on her husband too: Long got married because his mother told him to and he would not disobey her, despite being 40.
Impressively, the documentary follows Azhe at a pivotal time in her life. At the beginning, she doesn’t have an Alien Resident Certificate, which she obtains by the end of the film. Through a conversation with her husband, we understand a shift in their relationship. Now that she has the ARC, she jokingly says that she could leave him.
One weak spot the movie has is superfluous sad music overlaid on some of the shots.
But this is a forgivable mistake, as without any voice-over, The Good Daughter simply shows us conversations happening within a Taiwanese family in the countryside, slowly revealing the different factors at play in their existence.
TNL Editor: Daphne K. Lee, Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)
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