Eat Drink Man Woman
EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN
Notes: Samuel Goldwyn Company. 124 minutes.
Tao Chu: Sihung Lung
Mrs. Liang: Ah-Leh Gua
Jia-Chen: Chien-Lien Wu
Jia-Ning: Yu-Wen Wang
Director: Ang Lee
Producer: Li-Kong Hsu
Screenplay: Ang Lee, James Schamus, and Hui-Ling Wang
Cinematography: Jong Lin
Language: Mandarin with English Subtitles
Summary: Tao Chu is a widower, dictatorial father, andmaster chef. His taste buds no longer work and he relies on hisassistant Wen to tell him whether a dish is eye-watering or mouthwatering.All three of his daughters still live at home, much to their dismay.Jia-Jen his eldest daughter is a schoolteacher and seems quitecontent to stay at home. Jia-Chen his second daughter has justsunk all of her money in an apartment so that she can move out;she is a successful executive at an airline. Jia-Ning is his youngestdaughter and works at a Wendy’s. Every Sunday Chu insists thatthey sit down for a Sunday dinner. Jia-Chen describes them astheir “Sunday torture.” Despite the anger that fillstheir house they all love one another and care for each otherdeeply. They “communicate by eating”; indeed the dinnertable is the only place where they truly communicate. With thewords “I have an announcement,” Jia-Ning tells him thatshe is moving in with her boyfriend because they are in love,but “mostly because I am carrying his baby.” Later inthe film while Chu is cutting up a dish with a hatchet, Jia-Jensays, “I have an announcement,” and proceeds to telleveryone that she is married. She then runs outside and dragsin her new husband. The camera pans to a hilarious scene in whichChu is just staring at the husband while holding a hatchet. Nomatter what happens in this family, the dinner table is wherethey connect and share their feelings.
Commentary: This is a wonderful food movie: spectacularmeals and food scenes are always just moments away in this film.While the opening credits appear the viewer is treated to watchingChu beginning to prepare a Sunday dinner. He keeps live fish ina clay jar so that they are fresh; he also raises his own chickens.Something as simple as cutting vegetables is turned into art.Watching him pull out Peking duck is almost unbearable to watchif there is no food around. This film will also leave you cravingdumplings, something that he fixes at almost all of his Sundaydinners. In another scene Jia-Chen and her friend are drinkingtea. First she pours boiling water into a pitcher containing tealeaves, after a minute she then pours the tea into her cup butleaves the small tea pot resting in her cup for a minute to drain.It is this attention to detail that makes this movie a wonderfulfood film. The plot is much better than A Walk in the Clouds;however, it can not quite rival Big Night for substance,but it is still well written. The only other film that rivalsthe preparation, presentation, and consumption of food is Babette’sFeast.