Midnight Diner: Mark’s Daughter (深夜食堂:马克的女儿)

I’ve just finished watching another C-drama during this long break. Another great movie-liked drama, called Midnight Diner. It’s actually a drama that stars different characters and stories in each episodes. The episode I’ve watched, titled Mark’s Daughter was starred by Mark Chao & little Ma Qian Yi. I wondered whether the title Mark’s Daughter was designed especially for Mark himself, because I felt his acting in this episode was very very impressive.

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”It was her presence, that he finally can listen to sounds in the world.”

Main characters:

Mark Chao  Mark
Ma Qian Yi – Le Le / Wang Jing Zhen
Qi Wei – Ai Zhen

Synopsis:

Mark was a deaf, muted sailor working at a harbour port. Neither he was literate nor led a lavish life. He did not have a lot of friends due to his conditions, but he met a group of supportive friends at a late night restaurant. One day, he found a newborn baby girl, left behind at the port by human traffickers. And so, Mark raised the baby girl as his own daughter. Together with his friends, they named her Le Le  which means ‘happy’.

Mark changed his job from a sailor to a mechanic in the port so he have more time to look after his daughter. Despite he was deaf, muted and illiterate, he still took full responsibility as a father to make sure Le Le grow up healthily. For instance, Le Le did not like to eat vegetable. To avoid Le Le from getting constipation, Mark & his friends came up with an idea of ‘Vegetable Refilling Day’ on every Friday for her. As Le Le grew up, they took care of each other too. Often, Le Le would translate for Mark and Mark would use sign/body language to communicate.

When Le Le turned five, she fell down & injured herself one day. She was rushed to the hospital & this was where the authorities found that she was not Mark’s biological daughter. Social workers felt that Mark was not suitable to take care of Le Le, that his conditions could not provide Le Le with an all-rounded childhood care. They began to search for Le Le’s mother, in which they found shortly. Le Le’s mother, Ai Zhen was against Mark to see Le Le again too because she thought Mark & his friends were bad influences. Eventually, a legal battle began.

Mark wanted to prove that he have the ability to look after Le Le. He stretched his effort to learn pronunciation & words. During the process, some of his friends advised him that for the sake of Le Le, perhaps her own mother was a better candidate to ensure and provide her with what she actually needs. Mark thought otherwise and still determined to prove he can take care of Le Le. Finally at the court, he used his best effort and energy to read Le Le’s favourite story and said, ‘I can take care of Le Le’. 

Still, reality check. Ai Zhen won the legal battle. But at the same time, she realised that her perception on Mark and his friends were wrong. She realised Mark and his friends played important roles in Le Le’s life all this while. Mark also realised that it was best for Le Le to go back to her mother’s care too. At the end, Le Le went back to her mum to live in the city. When Le Le and her mother left, Mark broke down painfully.

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The official trailer and full drama link are below. I couldn’t find the full drama with English subs yet but I’m sure it would be out very soon.

Trailer:

 

Full drama (without English subs):

[CLICK HERE]

 

Thoughts:

I rarely cried so much watching a drama/movie literally. I was really touched by the story depicting a mother who lost her child for five years, a father who’s going to lose his child, and the conflict within a child whether to go back to her biological mother or continue to live with her foster father. The actors depicted their characters sooooo good I literally felt the characters’ feelings. I think that’s why tears unstoppably rolled down as I watched the drama.

In the court scene, by every lawful reasons and rights, Mark did not stand even 1% chance to win the case. He still fought for it nevertheless. He used his best effort to shout ‘I can take care of Le Le!’. It was not easy for a deaf, muted person to muster those words out, the feeling of helplessness in him.

At one point of time, I was angry at Le Le’s biological mother. Why wouldn’t she allow Mark to see Le Le? He was the one who took care of her with all his love and effort, but you just took her away just like that?! How was that fair for Mark and Le Le? But she pointed out a good point which directed me to think in her perspective, ‘Do you know how much pain I’ve gone through for the past five years?’. Yes, a mother who have lost her child. The pain and anguish towards the fact that your loved ones were taken away from you, and you don’t know they were still alive or not. The pain that you have to endure from waiting for your loved ones to return.

If you think of both parties’ perspectives, they were neither wrong. And I guess this was why both parties came to a mutual agreement at the end. Mark understood how Ai Zhen felt as a mother and what was best for Le Le. Ai Zhen was also touched by Mark, a person from a low socio-educated background, who selflessly poured all his fatherly love towards Le Le.

I personally felt that this episode taught me about ‘love: what is and how to love?’. Love does not matter where you came from, where you are, where you will be. When you love, you wish you could provide the best for your loved ones. That you could be there with your loved ones. But what if you were to be separated with your loved ones, for them to get the best? Is that not a love? Not necessarily.

Mark portrayed a father who have given his all for the best of his daughter. When the daughter was about to leave him, he knew this would mean he as a father was going to lose a daughter forever. But he also knew, he should let her go for a better of her. This was his love for his daughter. It’s never easy to let go, and not everyone can let go easily. At the end, Mark did not cry in front of Le Le when they’re bidding goodbye. It was only when she was gone, he broke down. A father who kept the sorrows to himself, but have given his beloved daughter, a better future and love.

On the other hand, Ai Zhen detested Mark for ‘stealing’ her daughter away from her, that he was the reason her daughter could not accept her. She could not accept and understand how a low, poor and physically unfit person to look after her daughter. All these hatred existed because she loved Le Le and wanted the best for her too. However, she realised that love was not measured materialistically. Le Le may be brought up by a ‘stereotypically lacking’ family. Indeed, Le Le was still lacking of motherly love and all-rounded childhood care yet she was carefree, happy and independent. When Le Le returned to the city with Ai Zhen at the end, Ai Zhen gave Mark a flight ticket to visit them too.

All in all, I felt the Mark was quite a fresh character compared to other ‘superhero father’ in other dramas. He’s just like a typical father, who might not have much to give to his children materialistically, but a father who was willing to be your crying shoulder, your pillar of strength. He don’t express his love through words but actions, be it silently.

(p.s: the drama also depicted how stereotype our society have become. When Le Le was sent to the hospital and taken care by the social worker, the social worker one-sidedly deduced that Mark do not have the ability to take care of Le Le due to his physical conditions. I felt it’s so unfair and injustice to the disabled. To think of it, is our society any different from this right now?) 

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