Tonight I realize that I've been watching a lot of depressing documentaries lately and wanted something light and uplifting. So, when I saw that this film is about a girl reuniting with her birth mother and family, I thought this would be a great change of pace...NOT!!! So, if you want a fun or happy film...keep looking! This film is about a lady who was taken out of South Vietnam around the time of the American pullout in 1975. She was raised by a single parent in America--and her birth mother and siblings stayed behind in Vietnam. As for her father, he was some American serviceman--but his exact identity is unknown. Life in America wasn't terrible, but her mother was very cold and a bit crazy. I really think the lady grew up and expected to make a wonderful connection with her old family in Vietnam to make up for her crappy mother in the States.
Now you'd THINK that after several decades that the young lady would love to visit with her old family and reconnect with her culture. And, at first it is. However, after a while the film gets to be VERY painful. At first, I thought it was because the lady just felt overwhelmed by all the very, very huggy relatives. But, as the film progressed, things took a slightly darker turn--and much of it was due to serious cultural differences. Not only were the family much more physical than she was used to (she was raised by a VERY cold adoptive mother), but some of them started putting pressure on her for financial help. And soon, the pressure becomes much greater. I think a lot of this was a case of misunderstanding--and it's ALL very painful to watch. Interesting...but very painful. And, not surprisingly, the lady ran back to her home in America--wanting to put this painful episode behind her.
Unlike a typical "American Experience" film, this one is not narrated except at the very beginning. Instead, much of the time, everyone just talks and interacts and you watch--almost like you are standing there watching. This isn't bad nor is it any sort of critique, but it's just very much unlike the man other episodes of the show I have seen. And, remember, it's pretty painful.
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