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Challenging but virtually forgettable viewing experience

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Reclaim is a Netflix Mandarin drama film from Taiwan. It portrays the life of a Yeh lan-hsin woman who is about to retire. A nice house where all her family could live, while she takes care of them, that’s all she wants.

Story

Yeh lan-hsin is a daycare teacher and owner of an art gallery. After more than 30 years of service, she wishes to retire and spend her time traveling, while taking care of her family.

Lan-hsin’s husband, David, is a retired man who collects antiques to resell them when their value appreciates. Although he is home all day, David barely contributes to the upkeep of the house.

His two children are well educated, Chia-yu is a doctoral student in the United States where he lives with his family, and Chia ning is an architect. Children only approach him when they need something.

Lan-hsin’s 85-year-old mother, who lives in a nursing home, develops dementia that causes her to act out and become paranoid. This leaves the nursing home no choice but to calm her down and keep her asleep for longer hours.

Lan-hsin wishes to bring her mother home and take care of her. She cleans the guest room but her daughter quits her job and moves into that room instead.

With a mission to keep her family under one roof, Lan-hsin begins looking for a home. She meets an investment advisor Kuan-ting in the process who also happens to be her former student.

Kuan-ting shows her a house that she instantly likes. She decides to put a deposit on the house. However, he lures her into a shady scheme by asking her for 6 million USD with the pretense of doubling her investment in 6 months and also giving her the down payment in 2 weeks.

She accepts the market and agrees to invest. Kuan-ting duly pays the first installment in 2 weeks, but then slips under the radar, similarly scamming other people in the process.

Upset that nothing is going her way and her family isn’t helping her, Lan-hsin begins to rethink her role as an individual. She finally takes a break when she visits her mother at the nursing home.

Performances

Hee-Ching-Paw as Lan-hsin delivers an authentic performance of a woman who is the personification of organization and management, taking care of everyone’s needs except her own.

Shih-Hsun Kou as the obnoxiously demanding and patriarchal David is a scene stealer and manages to both irritate and captivate audiences whenever he is on screen.

Support performance is mixed.

Good points

The film has impeccable attention to detail. The miniature house that Lan-hsin reconstructs at the beginning and completes at the end serves as a full circle to the plot.

The story depicts an authentic relationship between Lan-hsin and the most important women in his life – his mother and daughter. The transition of thought and personality is also depicted with clarity.

Another observant scene where Lan-hsin, having realized his sense of self, finally sits down in the leather chair that David usually sits on, is satisfying to watch.

Like several Asian films ranging from K-dramas to anime, food plays a crucial role in the film and is presented using the relaxing ASMR technique.

The depiction of the Taiwanese economy is evident in the film, especially in the aspect of the issue of the generational wealth gap. Better educated young people fail while their parents are happy in retirement.

Reclaim takes a documentary-style approach, offering real insight into the protagonist’s life and her roles as daughter, wife, mother and teacher.

negatives

Reclaim doesn’t work like a big character study. Instead of a story arc, the viewing focuses on a few days in the life of the protagonist, which, while insightful, consists mostly of mundane tasks.

A significant portion of the film follows Lan-hsin searching for houses and investment options, which does not significantly affect the ending or the other characters.

The secondary characters, with the exception of the husband, do not appear three-dimensional and simply act according to the convenience of the plot.

Falling for scams is an endemic problem in Taiwan and the film barely covers the surface.

The transition from scamming to investing to self-discovery is not a seamless transition and seems awkward and confusing. Introducing the self-searching element earlier in the story rather than the final 15 minutes would have been a big plus.

Kuan-ting reappearing, ultimately, is rather confusing and has no obvious implications.

Verdict

Exploring themes of identity and a coexisting sense of community and individuality, Reclaim (2022) is a slow watch and therefore not for everyone. Audiences can appreciate the details of the film and correlate them with societal incidents.

Rating: 2.5/5


Read also : Reclaim (2022) Ending Explained: Does Lan-hsin Get Her Money Back?