Twenty years before the world was paralyzed by the Covid-19 virus epidemic, there was a danger that a far more dangerous and deadly respiratory virus could spread. It is the SARS virus that infected more than 8,000 people (with 774 dead) in 29 countries from November 2002 to July 2003, but fortunately the epidemic was brought under control in time. At that time, the action of this coming-of-age is taking place, which brought the feature debutante Feng-i Fioni Roan the award for Taiwan’s turn of the year. The SARS epidemic is actually just the backdrop in which the action of this emotional and layered drama about a family who decided to return home from the US takes place.
We also quickly discover the reason why 13-year-old Fen, her younger sister Ann and their mom Lily returned to Taiwan from Los Angeles. The mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and since they apparently did not have health insurance in the United States, they decided to return home. There they were greeted by their father or husband who is employed in China, and Fen is unhappy that they had to return from America. And she does not hide that she is angry and threatened because of that. This great student until yesterday gave up at school, constantly quarrels and defies her parents, and is increasingly moving away from her mother, whom she considers guilty of returning to Taiwan. Although it can be guessed that their life in America wasn’t exactly fabulous (some food coupons and the like are mentioned here), Fen seems to consider returning to his homeland as a defeat in life and all he wants is to return to Los Angeles.
On the other hand, the family situation is getting worse. Treatment costs and the family barely makes ends meet, and relationships between all of them are becoming increasingly strained. Both father and mother seem to have drifted apart, the daughter’s flies further affect that distancing, and when Fena’s younger sister ends up in the hospital on suspicion of picking up SARS, it will finally influence this family to reunite and understand one another. In the end, “American Girl” proved to be an emotional, realistic, quality and layered coming-of-age drama that had a handful of nominations in the selection for the best Taiwanese film of the year. Rating 7/10.
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