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thumbnail The Third Wife (2018 Vietnam)

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Director: Ash Mayfair
Hong Chuong Nguyen, Long Le Vu, Nu Yên-Khê Tran
96 mins                    Rated R

When The Third Wife opened in Vietnam, 40,000 people went to see it in its first four days. The debut of young Vietnamese-born filmmaker Ash Mayfair, it tells the story of the filmmaker’s great-grandmother’s arranged marriage at the age of 13 to a wealthy middle-aged landowner. In those few days it was clear that this slow but steely story of domestic oppression had struck a national nerve. Then it was banned. Mayfair’s dreamlike feminist tale is of a teenager May who becomes the third wife of a prosperous rural landowner. She quickly comes of age, learning what she can about sex, and also about the strict patriarchal hierarchy of her society: a world in which women are scarcely more than property and fulfilment of any kind is fleeting. May soon pins all her hopes on becoming the first of Hung’s wives to bear him a son.

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