Contemporary World Cinema

The Road to Mandalay

Midi Z

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Two illegal Burmese migrants fleeing their country’s civil war find love with each other while struggling to survive in the bustling cities of Thailand.

A powerful and tragic love story, The Road to Mandalay follows two illegal immigrants from Myanmar on a journey whose harrowing nature is filmed in an arresting visual style.

A rundown truck barrels down the road, transporting its "illegal" human cargo under cover of night. On board is Guo (Ko Kai), a kind and honest young man who doesn't think of himself as an illegal immigrant, as he has no intention of staying in Thailand. Just out of military service, he has a plan: work for a while in a textile factory, bring the money back to Burma, find the love of his life, and live happily ever after. Little does he expect to find the woman of his dreams on board this very truck.

Lianqing (Wu Ke-Xi) is beautiful and resolute, determined to leave poverty behind and build a better, brighter future for herself. But her lack of working papers makes her feel fragile and insecure, vulnerable to exploitation at the mercy of unscrupulous employers. Even though she escapes the borderlands where her virginity is considered a precious saleable good, she will find that things are no better in the bustling cities of Thailand. The road ahead of Guo and Lianqing is a difficult one, and they will have to endure terrible hardships if they are to have a life together.

In recent years, millions of Burmese migrants have crossed their country's border into Thailand, looking for work and fleeing civil war. A disturbing examination of their experience, the latest film by writer-director Midi Z is a slow-burning contemporary drama that unfolds on screen with the assured strength of a masterpiece.

GIOVANNA FULVI

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