Thi Mai

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Critic Reviews for Thi Mai

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Audience Reviews for Thi Mai

  • May 05, 2018
    As I mentioned in a recent review, I don't have any children (and I don't think I'll ever have them), so I've never lost one due to some tragic circumstance. The closest I can come to is the fact that, I have cats that stay in the garage area of my house that I feed, and several of them have been run over by cars. It obviously doesn't compare to the loss a parent feels when they lose their child, particularly if it's their only one, but I'm just offering that as a point of comparison. If I feel terrible when I lose one of my cats, again, I can't imagine what a parent goes through when they lose a child. We obviously all grieve differently, there's no one right way of grieving the loss of someone you love, even if people try to 'judge' you if you don't react a certain way to what has happened. How the grieving process manifests itself is gonna be different for every single person. And that's what this movie deals with. In a way, it reminds me of a movie I saw some years ago. It was called The Way (with Martin Sheen). In that movie Martin's son died (played by his own son, Emilio Estévez). To honor his memory, however, Martin's character decides to walk the trail his son died in trying to complete. Martin has his son's ashes and he sprinkles a little bit of them as certain spots on his journey. It was actually a really lovely movie. I think it's one that captures that connection between parent and child and how, sometimes, completing something your son/daughter wasn't able to complete brings you even closer to them and knowing more about them. This movie, sadly, isn't The Way, though it has some similar themes. Carmen decides to adopt the little girl her daughter was trying to adopt before she died in a car accident. Along with two of her friends (one of whom got fired due to her age and the other who's the perfect housewife, doing everything around the house to an unappreciative husband and kids) and they journey to Vietnam to bring Thi Mai home. This should be said right out of the gate, Carmen Machi, who plays, well, Carmen, is excellent in this movie. And I don't wanna say the movie wastes an excellent performance, because they don't, but the movie is predictable in that you know it's all gonna lead to that big, climactic sentimental moment when Carmen is finally able to officially adopt Thi Mai and bring her back to Spain. Watching the trailers prior to watching it, it was obvious that this was the road it was heading towards. When you know where you're headed, it makes that eventually destination not as satisfying, in my opinion. I mean, you could make the argument that kids get excited for Disneyland even if they're aware of their destination. But I'm not a kid, I just wish the movie might have played more with the idea of Carmen not actually getting Thi Mai. They certainly play with it, considering the fact that, as the adoption wasn't legal yet, Carmen had no right to claim Thi Mai as her own. I don't know about the complexities of these types of adoptions, but I doubt that it's as easy as the film makes it out to be. I'm not saying that that sort of bureaucracy is good, because it's not, particularly for the kids who have to spend who knows how many years for the process to play out. And, after a certain age, as sad as it is, people don't necessarily want to adopt someone who's, say, in their teens. But the reality of the complexities of this issue is vastly different than what the movie chooses to portray. And that's fine, movies break the rules all the time to serve their greater purpose, but it's still worth pointing out. The movie, obviously, isn't just about Carmen's journey. It's about Rosa (the housewife) finally standing up on her own, without the need of her husband's financial aid and Elvira finding love with Dan, the adorable Vietnamese tour guide that acts as the intermediary between Carmen and the people at the adoption agency. Andres, a fellow Spaniard in Vietnam to live with his boyfriend (who got married to a woman without telling him), also becomes friends with the group and aids them in their journey. Given that the movie features a culture clash, there's some relatively insensitive jokes here. Like Rosa's insistence that the Vietnamese eat dogs. Hell, there's even a scene that has them, unwittingly, eating a dog that was cooked by these nice Vietnamese women. And it's like, really dude. You're gonna play into some of the worst, most negative stereotypes associated with Vietnam and you're gonna CONFIRM THOSE STEREOTYPES??? Talk about being incredibly tone deaf. I don't know if some Vietnamese people really cook and eat dogs, I don't live there, so I wouldn't really know. And they don't rely on this too much, but when they do it's incredibly ignorant and retrograde. Same as it is when the Americans do it. There's another scene where Rosa tries to bribe a government official with less than 15. Because, apparently, all government officials in Vietnam must be corrupt for, really, what amounts to chump change. Again, the ignorance on display is off the charts. And it's not like the movie needed these scenes to be funny. I'll be honest, the movie, while it certainly has its comedic moments, isn't really meant to be a full-on comedy. So I don't understand what the point of these jokes were other than to piss off the country that allowed you to shoot your movie in it. It's a shame, because the rest of the movie is so inoffensively likable. I thought the cast was very strong, headed by, as mentioned, an excellent central performance from Carmen Machi. The movie is just really pleasant to watch, even if I wouldn't call it good, but these jokes are a complete detriment to what the movie is trying to be and the message it is trying to send. And, it's not that I'm against racial jokes, because it can work if you're doing it to show how ignorant some people are to other cultures. Like Ron Burgundy's jokes when he has dinner with his black girlfriend's family. Ron Burgundy is an ignorant asshole and these jokes are meant to highlight how much of an asshole he is. I don't think that's the cast in this movie, these jokes aren't really used to cast aspersions on a particular character. They use them to sort of endear you to them and that's just the wrong way to go about it. And, again, if the jokes were at least good, but they're not only offensively lazy, they just fall flat on their asses. It is what it is and, again, it's not like the movie is full of these jokes. They comprise, maybe, less than 2%, but still, it needs to be pointed out. The movie is definitely sweet and the vibe is always positive throughout, so that certainly made this watchable enough. It's never too serious in spite of the earlier moments with Maria's death, who's really just a plot device. But I felt that there was something missing from this movie. While, again, Carmen is excellent in this movie. I just didn't really get to know enough about her relationship with her daughter to truly invest in this journey Carmen's on. They probably believe that since Carmen lost her daughter that that would be enough. It really isn't. As I mentioned, Maria is just a plot device. There's no exploration of how close Carmen and Maria were, nothing about how their relationship developed throughout the years. You're just meant to take things at face value and that, really, is a disservice to the characters this film showcases. I felt that I would have invested more in Carmen's journey if I knew a little more about her and, more importantly, if I knew a little more about her daughter. The painfully obvious sentimental ending also detracts from this. I suppose one could make the argument that it's the journey and not the destination, but the journey isn't necessarily great shakes either. This is certainly a decent movie and those with a more...casual disposition will fall for this hook, line and sinker. Wouldn't recommend it, but there's worse ways to spend a couple of hours.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer

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