Eat Drink Man Woman

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Eat Drink Man Woman
Eat Drink Man Woman.jpg
DVD cover
Traditional 飲食男女
Simplified 饮食男女
Mandarin yǐn shí nán nǚ
Directed by Ang Lee
Produced by Hsu Li Kong
Hsu Kong
Written by Ang Lee
James Schamus
Hui-Ling Wang
Starring Sihung Lung[N 1]
Yu-wen Wang
Chien-lien Wu
Kuei-mei Yang
Music by Mader
Cinematography Lin Jong
Edited by Ang Lee
Tim Squyres
Distributed by The Samuel Goldwyn Company
Release date(s)
  • August 3, 1994 (1994-08-03)
Running time 123 minutes
Country Taiwan
Language Mandarin
Box office $7,294,403

Eat Drink Man Woman is a 1994 Taiwanese film directed by Ang Lee and starring Sihung Lung, Yu-wen Wang, Chien-lien Wu, and Kuei-mei Yang.[1] The film was released on August 3, 1994, the first of Lee's films to be both a critical and box office success.[2] In 1994, the film received the Asia Pacific Film Festival Award for Best Film, and in 1995 it received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.[3]

The title is a quote from the Book of Rites, one of the Confucian classics, referring to the basic human desires and accepting them as natural. The beginning of the quote reads as follows: “The things which men greatly desire are comprehended in meat and drink and sexual pleasure; […]” (Translation by James Legge), Chinese: 「飲食男女,人之大欲存焉」.[4]

Many of the cast members had appeared in Ang Lee's previous films. Sihung Lung and Ah Lei Gua played central elderly figures dealing with the transition from tradition to modernity in The Wedding Banquet, in which Winston Chao also starred. Sihung Lung played an immigrant father in Pushing Hands. These three films show the tensions between the generations of a Confucian family, between East and West, and between tradition and modernity. They form what has been called Lee's "Father Knows Best" trilogy.[5]

Plot[edit]

The setting is 1990s contemporary Taipei, Taiwan. Mr. Chu (C: 老朱, P: Lǎo Zhū "Old Chu"; Sihung Lung), a widower who is master Chinese chef, has three unmarried daughters, each of whom challenges any narrow definition of traditional Chinese culture:

  • Chu Jia-Jen (C: 朱家珍, P: Zhū Jiāzhēn), the oldest one (Kuei-Mei Yang), is a school teacher nursing a broken heart who converted to Christianity.
  • Chu Jia-Chien (C: 朱家倩, P: Zhū Jiāqiàn), the middle one (Chien-lien Wu), is a fiercely independent airline executive who carries her father's culinary legacy, but never got to pursue that passion.
  • Chu Jia-Ning (T: 朱家寧, S: 朱家宁, Zhū Jiāníng), the youngest one (Yu-Wen Wang), is a college student who meets her friend's on-again off-again ex-boyfriend and starts a relationship with him.

Each Sunday Mr. Chu makes a glorious banquet for his daughters, but the dinner table is also the family forum, or perhaps “torture chamber,” to which each daughter brings “announcements” as they negotiate the transition from traditional “father knows best” style to a new tradition which encompasses old values in new forms.

Other characters include:

  • Uncle Wen (T: 老溫, S: 老温, P: Lǎo Wēn "Old Wen"), chef friend of Mr. Chu
  • Liang Jin-Rong (T: 梁錦榮, S: 梁锦荣, P: Liáng Jǐnróng), a young single-mother
  • Shan-Shan (C: 珊珊 Shānshān), Jin-Rong’s daughter
  • Mrs. Liang (C: 梁母, P: Liáng-mǔ "Liang Mother"), Jin-Rong’s mother, who comes to live with her
  • Li Kai (T: 李 凱, S: 李 凯, P: Lǐ Kǎi), an up-and-coming airline executive
  • Raymond (C: 雷蒙), Jia-Chien’s ex-lover, with privileges
  • Zhou Mingdao (C: 明道, P: Míngdào), volleyball coach with a motor bike
  • Guo Lun (T: 國 倫, S: 国 伦, P: Guó Lún), ex-boyfriend of Jia-Ning's friend

As the film progresses, each daughter encounters new men. When these new relationships blossom, their roles are broken and the living situation within the family changes. The father eventually brings the greatest surprise to the audience at the end of the story.

Development[edit]

Ang Lee, James Schamus, and Hui-Ling Wang wrote the script.[6]

Cast[edit]

  • Sihung Lung as Chu
  • Kuei-Mei Yang as Jia-Jen
    • Jia-Chien believes that Li Kai broke the heart of her older sister Jia-Jen, and Dariotis and Fung wrote that the event seems to have caused Jia-Jen to turn away from the world.[7] Later in film it is revealed that Jia-Jen fabricated the story, in order to "create a barrier against intimacy—even with her family" according to Dariotis and Fung.[7] Ultimately she marries a new boyfriend after being abstinent for nine years. Her family members seem puzzled when they realize he is not a Christian but Jia-Chien says "He will be."[6]
    • Wei Ming Dariotis and Eileen Fung, authors of "Breaking the Soy Sauce Jar: Diaspora and Displacement in the Films of Ang Lee", wrote that Jia-Jen's story is that of a "spinster turned sensual woman".[7] They wrote that her Christianity was there "perhaps to match her role as a mother-figure". She suspects Jia-Chien of disapproving of her moral system.[7] Dariotis and Fung wrote that after Jia-Chien states that she needs not a mother but sister, Jia-Jen "is able to become who she really is with all the complexity that entails" rather than being someone she believed her family needed, with "who she really is" being "a modern, conservative, Christian, sexually aggressive Taiwanese woman".[7] Desson Howe of the Washington Post wrote that of the actresses, Yang was the "most memorable".[6]
    • Dariotis and Fung argue that Jia-Jen's story, along with Jia-Ning's, is "not only flat but also dangerously uncomplicated."[7]
  • Chien-lien Wu as Jia-Chien
    • Jia-Chien is sexually liberated. She suspects Jia-Jen of disapproving of her moral system. Dariotis and Fung wrote that the film's main focus is on the relationship between Jia-Chien and her father.[7]
    • Chien-lien Wu, who plays Jia-Chien, also portrays Mr. Chu's dead wife. Lizzie Francke wrote that Jia-Chien taking the role of the cook "makes manifest the various needs that bind a family by setting a mother back at the heart of it".[8] Dariotis and Fung wrote that therefore the phrase from Francke has multiple meanings since Jia-Chien takes her father's role of being a chef and therefore "is trying to be the son her father never had" and she takes the role of the mother.[8]
  • Yu-Wen Wang as Jia-Ning
    • Jia-Ning becomes involved with an on-and-off boyfriend of her friend and gets into a love triangle. She unexpectedly becomes pregnant and goes off to live with her boyfriend. Dariotis and Fung wrote that the Chu family expresses "little ceremony or question" before she leaves to be with Guo Lun.[7]
    • Dariotis and Fung wrote that Jia-Ning's story is of "naïveté and immature love" and that the love triangle involving her, Guo Lun, and her friend "is in many ways a parody of comic book romance."[7] Dariotis and Fung argue that Jia-Ning's story, along with Jia-Jen's, is "not only flat but also dangerously uncomplicated."[7] They further state that "[t]he lack of inquiry is endemic of this storyline" and that its "superficial treatment" is "quite disturbing."[7]
  • Sylvia Chang as Jin-Rong
  • Winston Chao as Li Kai
    • Jia-Chien believes that Li Kai broke the heart of her older sister Jia-Jen, and Dariotis and Fung wrote that the event seems to have caused Ji-Jen to turn away from the world.[7] Later in film it is revealed that Jia-Jen fabricated the story, in order to "create a barrier against intimacy—even with her family" according to Dariotis and Fung.[7]
  • Chao-jung Chen as Guo Lun
    • Guo Lun reads Fyodor Dostoyevsky's works. In the beginning of the movie his girlfriend, Jia-Ning's friend, keeps standing him up and he complains about the situation.[6] He lives alone in a house because for most of the year his parents are out of Taiwan. Dariotis and Fung wrote that Guo Lun's family is "dysfunctional".[7] Desson Howe of the Washington Post describes him as "mopey".[6] Dariotis and Fung wrote that Guo Lun has "invisible financial resources that no one in the film questions."[7]
  • Lester Chit-Man Chan as Raymond
  • Yu Chen as Rachel
  • Kuei Ya-lei as Madame Liang
  • Chi-Der Hong as Class Leader
  • Gin-Ming Hsu as Coach Chai
  • Huel-Yi Lin as Sister Chang
  • Shih-Jay Lin as Chief's Son
  • Chin-Cheng Lu as Ming-Dao
  • Cho-Gin Nei as Airline Secretary
  • Yu-Chien Tang as Shan-Shan
  • Chung Ting as Priest
  • Hari as Construction Worker
  • Cheng-Fen Tso as Fast Food Manager
  • Man-Sheng Tu as Restaurant Manager
  • Zul as Mendaki
  • Chuen Wang as Chief
  • Reuben Foong as Drama Mamma
  • Jui Wang as Old Wen
  • Hwa Wu as Old Man[9]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

In her review in The New York Times, Janet Maslin praised Ang Lee as "a warmly engaging storyteller." She wrote, "Wonderfully seductive, and nicely knowing about all of its characters' appetites, Eat Drink Man Woman makes for an uncomplicatedly pleasant experience."[10]

In his review in the Washington Post, Hal Hinson called the film a "beautiful balance of elements ... mellow, harmonious and poignantly funny." Hinson concluded:

As the relationships evolve and deepen, there seems to be a surprise around every corner—for both the characters and the audience. But what is most surprising, perhaps, is how involved we become with these people. As satisfying as food can be, the fullness we feel at the end here is far richer and more complex than that offered by the most extravagant meal. “ Eat Drink Man Woman” is a delicacy but also something more—something like food for the heart.[11]

On the aggregate reviewer web site Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 94% positive rating from top film critics based on 31 reviews, and a 91% positive audience rating based on 13,132 reviews.[2]

Influence[edit]

Tortilla Soup, a 2001 American comedy-drama film directed by Maria Ripoll, is based on Eat Drink Man Woman.

Awards[edit]

  • 1994 Asia Pacific Film Festival Award for Best Film (Ang Lee) Won
  • 1994 Asia Pacific Film Festival Award for Best Editing (Tim Squyres) Won
  • 1995 Academy Award Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film
  • 1994 Golden Horse Film Festival Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actress (Ya-lei Kuei)
  • 1994 National Board of Review of Motion Pictures Award for Best Foreign Language Film Won
  • 1994 National Board of Review of Motion Pictures Award for Top Foreign Films Won
  • 1995 BAFTA Awards Nomination for Best Film not in the English Language
  • 1995 Golden Globe Awards Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film
  • 1995 Independent Spirit Awards Nomination for Best Cinematography (Lin Jong)
  • 1995 Independent Spirit Awards Nomination for Best Director (Ang Lee)
  • 1995 Independent Spirit Awards Nomination for Best Feature (Ted Hope, Li-Kong Hsu, James Schamus)
  • 1995 Independent Spirit Awards Nomination for Best Female Lead (Chien-lien Wu)
  • 1995 Independent Spirit Awards Nomination for Best Male Lead (Sihung Lung)
  • 1995 Independent Spirit Awards Nomination for Best Screenplay (Hui-Ling Wang, James Schamus, Ang Lee)
  • 1995 Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Film Won[3]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Sihung Lung was credited as Lang Hsiung.
Citations
  1. ^ "Eat Drink Man Woman". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved February 28, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Eat Drink Man Woman". Rotten Tomaties. Retrieved February 28, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Awards for Eat Drink Man Woman". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved February 28, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Lǐyùn 禮運 19" [Ceremonial usages; their origins, development, and intention], Lǐjì 《禮記》 [Book of Rites] 
  5. ^ Wei Ming Dariotis, Eileen Fung, "Breaking the Soy Sauce Jar: Diaspora and Displacement in the Films of Ang Lee," in Hsiao-peng Lu, ed., Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Identity, Nationhood, Gender (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997), p. 242.
  6. ^ a b c d e Howe, Desson. " ‘Eat Drink Man Woman’." Washington Post. October 19, 1994. Retrieved on November 20, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Dariotis and Fung, p. 211.
  8. ^ a b Dariotis and Fung, p. 212.
  9. ^ "Full cast and crew for Eat Drink Man Woman". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved February 28, 2012. 
  10. ^ Maslin, Janet (August 3, 1994). "Film Review: Avoiding Basic Human Desires, or Trying To". The New York Times. Retrieved July 8, 2011. 
  11. ^ Hinson, Hal (August 19, 1994). "Eat Drink Man Woman". Washington Post. Retrieved February 28, 2012. 
Bibliography
  • Vick, Tom (2008). Asian Cinema: A Field Guide. New York: Harper Perennial. ISBN 978-0061145858. 
  • Dariotis, Wei Ming and Eileen Fung. "Breaking the Soy Sauce Jar: Diaspora and Displacement in the Films of Ang Lee." in: Lu, Sheldon Hsiao-peng (Xiaopeng) (editor). Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Identity, Nationhood, Gender. University of Hawaii Press, January 1, 1997. ISBN 0824818458, 9780824818456.

External links[edit]