“Eat, drink, man, woman, food and sex: Basic human desires. Can’t avoid them.” –A character speaks in “Eat Drink Man Woman.”
Master Chu (Sihung Lung), a chef who works in Taipei, lives through food. At the beginning of this film, we see him slaughtering chickens, cleaning fish, frying, boiling and steaming delicacies for the Sunday dinner that he always prepares for his three daughters. It’s the only way he knows how to show affection. And when his restive progeny begin to move towards marriage and independence and away from Dad, Master Chu starts lavishing his attention on a family friend’s child, showering her with gourmet lunchbox delights. He just can’t help himself.
Food is the focus of this comedy/drama about an aging widower and his three grown daughters. Intertwined with the noodles, the crab dumplings, shark fin soup, and roasted claypot pork, are the complicated lives of each principle character. The eldest daughter (Kuei-Mei Yang) is a school teacher who is receiving mysterious love letters. The youngest daughter (Yu-Wen Wang), a college student, is involved with her friend’s boyfriend. The middle daughter (Chien-lien Wu), who inherited her father’s culinary talent, has abandoned her heritage for a career as an airline executive. Meanwhile, the family friend’s mother (Gua Ah-leh) is throwing herself at Master Chu.
There are surprises revealed in each of these character’s storylines, including the father’s. Follow through with each “course” of this tale, and you will enjoy a fulfilling “dessert” at story’s end.
You can find this film on instant download or DVD at amazon.com:
Note: Taiwanese-American director Ang Lee began his career making films based on Taiwanese subjects (Eat Drink Man Woman, The Wedding Banquet). He has since become renowned as a versatile story-teller in terms of subject matter:
- Sense and Sensibility (1995). Period drama based on Jane Austin’s 1811 novel Sense and Sensibility.
- The Ice Storm (1997). A drama about two American families trying to deal with social changes in the 1970’s.
- Brokeback Mountain (2005). A heartbreaking love story about two gay cowboys, based on the equally heartbreaking short story by Annie Proulx.
- Life of Pi (2012). An inventive yarn about a young boy shipwrecked on a raft with a Bengal tiger. Based on the novel by Yann Martel.
Pluses: Enjoyable performances by all actors, incredible food scenes, surprising and enjoyable denouement.
Minus: Plot a little slow…but the story’s ultimately worth it.
Cast: Sihung Lung, Kuei-Mei Yang, Chien-lien Wu, Yu-Wen Wang, Gua Ah-leh
Director: Ang Lee
Rating: Not Rated
Language: Mandarin, with subtitles
Length: 123 minutes