Synopsis: The life histories of four Asian women and their daughters reflect and guide each other.
Stars: Tamlyn Tomita, Rosalind Chao, Tsai Chin, France Nuyen, Lisa Lu, Ming-Na, Lauren Tom
Director: Wayne Wang
Running Length: 139 minutes
TMMM Score: (8/10)
Review: This adaptation of Amy Tan’s celebrated 1989 novel had the great fortune of falling into the right hands. In addition to Oscar winning producer Oliver Stone and Oscar winning screenwriter Ronald Bass (who collaborated on the script with Tan), director Wang was at the helm overseeing this drama that looked into the lives of a quartet of women and their daughters.
Tan’s novel weaved together the past and the present to form a rich tapestry of insights into cultures and customs and the movie followed well in its footsteps. I remember reading the novel before I saw the movie and finding it very cinematic in its conception. It was a joy to see that Bass and Tan managed to skillfully bring to life eight vastly different women with divergent stories, binding them together in a fantastic package.
Though the story is solid, the acting can run the gamut…mostly in the modern day daughters of these women. All the mothers have a noble story, some tragic, some humorous…but all with a definite impact. Chin makes the best impression as a feisty tiger mother that expects the best from her daughter. As the movie unfolds we see why she takes such pride in success and the sacrifices she made to provide the life her family enjoys.
It’s a handsomely made film that only gets more rewarding with each viewing as you can focus on another storyline. It’s also one of those tearjerkers that come from situations that we can relate to…especially for anyone (male or female) that gets that guilty pit in their stomach after responding in anger to a parent just trying to help or realizing too late you didn’t appreciate the unspoken gifts they gave you. Brace yourself for a heartbreaking scene set in a salon and a Kleenex box emptying reunion as the film draws to a close.