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Tuya's Marriage: Divorce, Mongolian style

From here to Timbuktu, you may not find a heroine as resilient as Tuya (Yu Nan), a sheepherder who plies her trade on the vast steppes of Inner Mongolia. Just fetching water for her family is a miles-long ordeal, her husband having permanently injured himself while trying to dig a well. Now, he's a stay-at-home dad who looks after their two kids while Tuya takes care of everything else, even the cooking and cleaning. But something has to give; the family's sliding deeper and deeper into poverty. And here's where Tuya's Marriage, directed by Wang Quan An, may have something to teach us about true love. Without shedding a tear (that will come later), Tuya and her husband decide to get a divorce so that Tuya can remarry and provide for her family.

Because she's still young and pretty, Tuya isn't without prospects, but she insists on putting a clause into the marriage contract: Her new husband has to take care of her old husband. And that throws just enough of a wrench into everything so that Tuya's Marriage plays like a comedy at times, although one that's as dry as the land Tuya surveys from atop her camel. I wish I could say it all works out in the end, but I'm not sure it does. And what we're left with, as Tuya attempts to sort out her marital life, is a sense that there are places in the world where happy endings aren't guaranteed. I don't know about you, but I find that idea rather refreshing, especially when you consider what the average Hollywood producer would have done with this storyline.

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