The Third Wife
Mayfair’s dreamlike feminist tale of repressed desire is filled with passion, beauty and melancholy. May (Nguyễn Phương Trà My ) is a teenager who, through an arranged marriage, becomes the third wife of prosperous rural landowner Hung. 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. Writer/director Mayfair based the tale in part on her own family history, recruiting a splendid cast including the great Trần Nữ Yên Khê (The Scent of Green Papaya). The Third Wife’s ravishing cinematography brings the pastoral setting to life with a mix of lyricism and bracing immediacy.