The Road to Mandalay (再見瓦城, 2016) directed by Midi Z presents Lianqing (Wu Ke-Xi) who starts her journey from Burma to Thailand. In Thailand she hopes to obtain a work that would allow her to support her family back home. During the trip, she briefly meets Ah Guo (Ko Chen-Tung, known for You Are the Apple of My Eye, 2011). Once in Thailand, Ah Guo offers his help to her, saying that she can work in a fabric in which he knows they need people. She refuses as she already has plans on obtaining a job in the city as a saleswoman. However, things are not easy for illegal immigrants in Thailand, as restrictions become stricter.
Meanwhile, Ah Guo finds out where she lives and visits her. For the viewer it might seem as a surprise to see him, but Lianqing appears indifferent. Nevertheless, he continues visiting her and helping her out. Lianqing is determined to get a work permit that would afford her the possibility to work legally in the city. Lianqing, Ah Guo, and other Burmese migrants travel to the middle of nowhere to obtain the official work permit, which would allow them to eventually acquire a Thai passport. The intermediates are friendly but should they trust them? Left with nothing else than just hope for a better future, they paid. Lianqing’s situation worsens and her relationship with Ah Guo seems to take another road, as both have different ideas about their future.
The Road to Mandalay reveals a few of the difficulties that illegal immigrants experience: working long hours for almost nothing and the fear of calling in their rights, as they might face deportation. This film also depicts the independence and determination of Lianqing as she continues to do what she thinks is the best for her and her family. However, the patriarchal behavior of Ah Guo connotes the idea that he thinks that he can determine her future and decide what the best is for her. The Road to Mandalay is a beautiful and visual film, as there is almost no dialogue in it. It arises questions and brings important social issues to our attention. Moreover, the characters in combination with the narrative, editing, and cinematography result in a story that you will not forget.
Cover image: Screenshot The Road to Mandalay – Lianqing and Ah Guo