‘5 Lessons in Happiness: She Is My Father’ follows the story of Hsiang (played by Lin You Xing), a club performer who suddenly gets a call from her daughter Ling (played by Guo Si Yu) whom she has not seen for the past ten years.
What do you do when the person you thought you knew was, in fact, a totally different person? Read on.
The short film starts with Hsiang walking around the marketplace. She says that being a woman, the best way to live is to go back to the necessities of life (whatever that means). Hsiang says that she wants to be an ordinary woman. That which is ordinary is the most beautiful, she says as she walks back home with her grocery in hand.
On the road, she spots a handsome young man running and she immediately oohs and ahhs at how sexy he is as he zips his jacket down. She flips her hair coyly and— record scratch— stumbles onto the ground with her bag of oranges rolling down the street. She fumbles to reach for the fruits when the young man suddenly approaches her, handing Hsiang her… fake silicone boob. Horrified, Hsiang lets out a shriek.
Moments later, Hsiang is hand-feeding an old man the oranges she bought. He calls her “sweet daughter-in-law and asks when she plans to marry Shu (played by Ying Wei Min). Shu stutters out a response, chiding his sick father, saying they’re doing well enough even if they’re not married. His father retorts that a responsible man would not say something like that. Hsiang placates the elderly, saying she will marry Shu as soon as she gets her new ID. The father says she’s lost her ID for a while now so why is it taking her so long to reapply for a new one? She tells him she’s willing to wait and she feeds Shu another orange. They share a smile.
Back home, Hsiang tells Shu that she must go to Thailand next month to get a gender-reaffirming surgery because her removable fake breasts have been failing. Shu assures her that she doesn’t need to do anything so why is she making herself suffer? Hsiang answers that if this isn’t for Shu then it’s for his dad at the very least. Shu counters that his father doesn’t really know what’s going on. Hsiang says that hasn’t he noticed that ever since she started taking hormones, her body has been changing a lot— her skin is smoother and her breasts are bigger. Besides, the changes helped his club business so much. Shu comments that she’s just a backup dancer, sometimes a comedian. Hsiang whines and asks are those things not important. Shu hugs her and tells her that she is important to him. Hsiang caresses his face and tells him that the first half of her life has been lived through other people’s expectations so it’s time for her to reclaim her true self. Hsiang stands by her decision to get her surgery next month. She takes out a hospital document that shows her dead name and narrates that she hasn’t been living as that person anymore but as Hsiang- Hsiang.
Later, after practicing for a dance number with her friends, Hsiang gets asked if she got permission from her husband for her gender reassignment surgery in Thailand. Hsiang nods but she confesses that she’s scared. Her friends hug and comfort her, saying they’re rooting for her. Hsiang tells them it’s not that, she’s scared that once she gets her operation she’ll outshine the other two and become the main dancer. Cackling!