Review of the film “Mai”: Strong performances in this delicate and heartbreaking love story

Mai’s two and a half hours are filled with a lot of different subgenres. It begins as a romantic comedy but progressively develops into a powerful drama with elements of suspense and mystery. The film revolves on the love story of Mai (Phuong Anh Dao) and Duong (Tuan Tran), who are at opposite ends of the spectrum, and is at its heart appealing and complicated. Each element of the story is given the appropriate amount of depth and build-up thanks to Tran Thanh and the authors. It goes without saying that Mai conceals severe pain behind her amiable exterior, but the spectator must put forth some effort to piece things together.


‘Mai’, a highly trained professional masseur, relocates to the area and works in a spa. Although her actual occupation is unknown, several conjectures have been made about her most probable source of income. Behind her back, she receives insulting remarks like “sugar baby” and “hooker,” and one neighbor accuses her of trying to snatch her husband—blaming ‘Mai’ rather than the indiscreet spouse in issue.

Ladies from the next apartment building leave trash and dog crap on her porch while she’s not looking. Though depicted in a theatrical way, these jealousies and civic disputes emphasize the hardships faced by unmarried women living alone in South East Asia (and elsewhere). A lack of privacy and judgment are two problems that people often encounter. The only individuals who accept Mai are a self-reliant middle-aged lady and the local playboy Duong.

As if her personal circumstances weren’t challenging enough, Mai’s success has angered her massage parlor coworkers. Most days she has a full schedule, and her coworkers are concerned about their loyal customers being taken advantage of. She promptly informs male clients requesting special services that she is a professional and to leave any questionable demands at the door. Her peers are more incensed by her attitude. Duong, on the other hand, is really fond of his neighbor and is carefree.

It’s difficult to classify “Main” as a movie. Yes, the whole plot revolves on a love story, but to limit it to that would be very unfair. There is a lot of heavy stuff to unpack here, including sexual violence and suicidal thoughts, complicated family dynamics (Duong and Mai included), ingrained trust and self-loathing issues as a direct result of past abuse, the child’s inability to break free from the parent, gambling addiction and the ensuing debt.

Additionally, the mystery makes every latter section of the narrative somewhat surprising. Although you are aware that negative things are on the horizon, you are unsure of their exact nature or magnitude. The principal actor in the movie, Phuong Anh Dao, performs an outstanding job. She is kind, compassionate, and sensitive, yet she keeps others who attempt to approach too closely at a distance. She wants to avoid seeming vulnerable since her history has obviously had a negative impact on her life.

She fights the want to feel the same way, even as Duong removes his playboy façade when he starts to feel anything. Another recurring element that runs through the movie is shame. It is regrettable that Mai has such severe self-judgment; guilt should be felt by those who have harmed her, especially her father, a gambler who depends on her for financial support. Sadly, that isn’t how things operate. She also finds it difficult to see her own value, even in the face of an encouraging daughter, a kind benefactor, and a guy who really loves her.

Mai illustrates complex parent-child interactions, which are a challenging topic to overcome. “There are many problems in Mai’s connection with her father; it seems like they are in reverse roles as she is always taking care of and protecting him. He was essentially an awful parent who seriously jeopardized her early life. Duong, on the other hand, is always under the shadow of his affluent, single mother. He lives alone and aspires to become a musician, but everything is funded by her. And she never lets him forget any of the sacrifices made, not even for a second. His pet moniker, Worm, simply serves to highlight the central location of power. The internal problems of their children may be attributed to both of these parents, notwithstanding their respective positions on the graph.

The picture is held together by the extreme emotional range of Phuong Anh Dao and Tuan Tran, who are both beautiful and heartbreaking. There is a trace left by silence. Their eyes and expressions convey more information than words ever could. One of “Mai’s” best features is its capacity to surprise you just when you think you’ve finally got it all figured out. In order to determine if there is still a little window of trust, the writer delves deeply into the traumatized area where love was previously lost.

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