Thank you to all who came to my watch party this week for our movie “Eat Drink Man Woman!”
“Eat Drink Man Woman” is as rich as the food senior chef and father to three beautiful daughters – all of whom still live at home – lovingly prepares a Sunday banquet for his family. He is an artist, and the dinner table is his canvas. Mostly retired, widowed for the last 16 years, the father of the house, Chu, played by Sihung Lung (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; The Wedding Banquet) spends the majority of his day cooking extravagant meals, and doing his daughter’s laundry. The family members never seem to have conversations together away from the dinner table and the ones at the table are strained. Unfortunately, the tension between him and his three daughters runs high, and no one seems particularly happy.
Mr. Chu lost his ability to taste some years ago, yet his daughters do not know. His only joy is bringing his little neighbor, Shan-Shan (Yu-Chien Tang), her lunch every day. He prepares her a feast for her and drops it off at her school, and then eats her lunch her mother has prepared for her so she won’t find out of their arrangement.
“Raising daughters is like cooking a meal. You lose your appetite by the time you’re finished.” – Mr. Chu
His three daughters are devoted to their father but do not seem happy about the arrangement. In fact, though they are young and have their whole lives ahead of them, they do not seem joyful about much. The oldest daughter, Jia-Jen (Kuei-Mei Yang), is a solemn, religious school teacher who is still heartbroken over a college fling. The middle daughter, Jia-Chien (Chien-Lien Wu) is a successful executive at an airline company, who has just been offered the position of vice president of their Amsterdam office. The youngest daughter, Jia-Ning (Yu-Wen Wang). Quiet and unassuming, she appears lost in life as she shuffles from school and her job at a fast-food restaurant.
Everything begins to change as one daughter after another announces a significant life change over the father’s elaborate meals. As each daughter boldly states their announcement throughout the film, Mr. Chu and his daughters go through their emotions alone. They do not share their feelings or thoughts with each other and when they do there is an overwhelming sense of sadness and loneliness.
“Eat, drink, man, woman. Basic human desires. Can’t avoid them. All my life, that’s all I’ve ever done. It pisses me off. Is that all there is to life?” – Mr. Chu
The art of cooking is wholesomely portrayed as it beautifully and poignantly tells the family’s story. I have found my new favorite film – special thanks to my wonderful friend Di and her boyfriend for the recommendation to add to my film series. I wonder if many of you could relate to a family who does not communicate well at all, yet bonds over cooking and good food. They love each other, but life is hard. The past can be painful and the future uncertain.
Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 91% critics score and a whopping 92% audience score: stating it is “A richly layered look at the complex interactions between a widowed chef and his daughters, Ang Lee’s generational comedy Eat Drink Man Woman offers filmgoers a tasty cinematic treat.” Filmed entirely in Taiwan, it is a classic that should be added to any film fanatics library. The screenplay was written by Ang Lee, James Schamus, and Hui-Ling Wang it is “an almost edible treat.”