Half in English, half in Mandarin, this story spans the two cultures and their uncomfortable intersection through a daughter, her mother, and the family’s patriarch grandfather. As formulaic as that sounds, this film is not; it casts a very honest eye across the world it shows us. Wu describes her movie as a comedy of manners rather than just a comedy, and that is about the best way to capture the sensibility and humor that is throughout. It is the friction between the generations and expectations that drives this story from a simmer to wonderful boil by the end.
Supporting the effort is a great cast of actors, so comfortable in their roles and skin that, at times, you’d think Wu simple set up a camera in their homes. The only widely known actor of the cast is Joan Chen, an aspect that Wu cannot resist having at least one moment of fun with if you’re watching. Few actors could have brought the subtle and contained performance she does to the mother. Krusiec, as the daughter, brings an honesty and vulnerability that resonates perfectly with the rest of the characters around her as she alternates between modern woman and dutiful daughter. These two women create the solid framework around which the rest of the film is allowed to unfold.
Wu’s script is touching and funny, with effortless dialog. Astoundingly, this was also Wu’s first time directing a feature. Her confidence behind the camera and putting together the final cut had me searching for more of her work, but as of now, there isn’t any. I sincerely hope that changes as she clearly has a voice and vision that would add value to the cinematic landscape.
While we wait, check this movie out.