[Film Review] Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)

Eat Drink Man Woman poster

English Title: Eat Drink Man Woman
Original Title: Yin shi nan yu 飲食男女
Year: 1994
Country: Taiwan
Language: Mandarin
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Director: Ang Lee 李安
Ang Lee 李安
James Schamus
Wang Hui-Ling 王蕙玲
Music: Mader
Cinematography: Jong Lin 林良忠
Lung Sihung 郎雄
Wu Chien-Lien 吳倩蓮
Yang Kuei-Mei 楊貴媚
Wang Yu-Wen 王渝文
Winston Chao 趙文瑄
Kuei Ya-Lei 歸亞蕾
Chan Chit-Man 陳捷文
Sylvia Chang 張艾嘉
Lu Chin-Cheng 盧金城
Chen Chao-Jung 陳昭榮
Wang Shui 王瑞
Tu Man-Sheng 杜滿生
Wang Cheun 王玨
Rating: 8.6/10

Eat Drink Man Woman 1994

Ang Lee’s third feature film and the final chapter of his “family trilogy” in Taiwan before launching an outstanding career in Hollywood, after his debut PUSHING HAND (1992) and THE WEDDING BANQUET (1993), EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN is consummately charming, and profoundly endearing, plus it is an unabashed food porn of Chinese cuisine.

Ang Lee’s regular screen patriarch Lung stars as Mr. Chu, is a 60-ish widower, an excellent chef with three grown-but-unwed daughters, the eldest one is Jia-Jen (Yang), a vocational school’s chemistry teacher in her 30s with a dour looking, devoted to her Christian religion and fabricates a heartbroken story as an excuse to conceal the deepest embarrassment of her repressed yearning for a man inside her life, until she meets the new gym teacher Ming-Dao (Lu). Jia-Ning (Wang) is the youngest one, merely 20-years-old and works in a fast-food chain, unpremeditatedly steals her best friends’ boyfriend Guo-Lun (Chen), Wang and Chen reunite here after their leading roles in Tsai Ming-liang’s REBELS OF THE NEON GOD (1992).

Jia-Chien (Wu), the middle daughter, is Chu’s favourite, a modern and independent woman secures an important position in an international airline company and receives a covetous promotion in Amsterdam, she engages a no-strings-attached relationship with her ex-boyfriend Raymond (Chan) and finds out Jia-Jen’s secret through her dubious liaison with her new college Kai (Chao). Conspicuously, the linchpin of the film lies between Jia-Chien and Chu, their daughter-father connection is being dissected poignantly through Ang Lee’s tender lens.

There is also, Jin-Rong (Sylvia Chang), their neighbor and Jia-Jen’s best friend from school, a divorcée bringing up a young daughter, and her recently-back-from-America mother Madame Liang (a Changsha-dialect-speaking Kuei), who never shies away from her (not-so-subtle) intention to remarry Mr. Chu, and she is the true comic relief and a great scene-stealer. All the main characters share one common trait: single-hood, no wonder the upshot is three marriages (or four if one considers one subplot) and two new babies. Ang Lee and his co-screenwriters shrewdly leave little hints intermittently from the beginning until the big revelation near the end during the whole family banquet, the script strikes a chord with the universal relevance of affections between blood relations. Embroidered with heartfelt leading performances from Lung and Wu, greatly impressive supporting turns from Yang and Kuei, as long as the appetizing dishes enticing both our senses of taste and vision, Ang Lee cooks up another exquisite main course with his impeccable intuition and even-handed execution, 1994 is eminently a stunning year for cineastes, both in the Orient and the Occident.

Oscar 1994 - Eat Drink Man Woman


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