The life of a mature garment worker is explored as she reaches a moment of crisis that brings out the strengths that reside within her personality. This debut film by cinematographer Chienn Hsiang shows the uncanny ability of a filmmaker to probe the inner life of a character with little dialogue, relying on the extraordinary acting ability of leading lady Chen Shiang-chyi.
Chen’s nameless character has toiled in a garment factory in a monotonous job for a long time, long enough to have the life nearly drained out of her. She has lived a life largely devoted to caring for her husband and daughter, who take her completely for granted. Now her husband leaves town on business and is likely to be gone for a long time. Her fun-living daughter is about to start college and acts like she has been liberated from what she considers to be the dungeon of family life. She lies to her mother about her activities and whereabouts to avoid being associated with her.
Not only must the mother now cope with the abandonment of her already estranged family, but now that her husband is gone, she must also care for her mother-in-law, who is in the hospital, the type of place where relatives are expected to help with caring for the patients. Although the woman has found some fulfillment in life by being able to care for others, ungrateful though they have been, caring for her husband’s mother is nothing more than another chore. Still, she goes dutifully to the hospital every day.
The mother-in-law’s room is shared with other patients, and the mother notices a man who has just been brought in, who is suffering from what look like injuries from an accident. His eyes are bandaged, so he cannot tell where he is. At times when the nurses are not there, she notices that he could use some help. She bathes his wounds, holds his hand and makes him more comfortable. They never talk. Unable to see, he is completely unaware of who is caring for him.
The mother begins to transform by caring for the injured man. She glows with the
satisfaction of helping someone who really needs her. As the dramatic moment approaches when the bandages will come off, she feels anticipation, not knowing whether this recipient of her loving care will be as ungrateful as her family, or whether she will finally receive appreciation for her kindness. But as the saying goes, virtue is its own reward