First-time feature filmmaker Georgia Lee's family drama focuses on the three very different daughters of a suburban Chinese-American couple. Newly retired Ed Wong (Tzi Ma) and his wife, homemaker Mai-Li (Freda Foh Shen), devoted their lives to raising hard-driving, asthmatic Samantha (Jacqueline Kim), who gave up her dreams of being a classical dancer to go into business; shy medical student Julie (Elaine Kao), who's just been saddled with the responsibility of babysitting for lipstick-lesbian starlet Mia Scarlett (Mia Riverton), who's researching an upcoming role as a doctor; and sullen, rebellious Katie (Kathy Shao-Lin Lee, the filmmaker's sister), who's in her senior year of high school and enmeshed in a hostile flirtation with classmate Simon (Sebastian Stan). But now that their daughters are independent young women with minds of their own, Ed and Mai-Li feel as though they're adrift, uncertain what to do with their lives. Mai-Li retreats into giving parties and fussing over the girls' social lives: She pressures Katie, who loves hip-hop, to perform a traditional ribbon dance at an upcoming festival; badgers Julie, whose only recreation is ballroom lessons, to date more; and nags Samantha, who's hip-deep in planning her wedding to Mark (Jayce Bartok), to incorporate Chinese motifs into the reception. Ed, who's losing his hearing Mai-Li insists he's just pretending in order to annoy her is the only member of the Wong family who's obviously depressed, but they've all lost touch with, or failed to figure out what, makes them happy. Samantha discovers that her old boyfriend Alex (Rossif Sutherland, Donald Sutherland's son and Kiefer's half brother) has returned to their hometown to teach music at Katie's school, and this serves as the catalyst for a series of life-changing events for every member of the family. Filmmaker Lee spent years making short films while working as a corporate consultant and attending Harvard Business School. One caught Martin Scorsese's attention, and later she apprenticed on his GANGS OF NEW YORK (2002), which helped her commit to full-time filmmaking. Though comparisons to Alice Wu's SAVING FACE (2004) are inevitable, Lee is more interested in spiritual impoverishment in a materialistic world than in the clash between assimilated children and their old-world parents. Like many first-time writer-directors, she packs five films' worth of drama, crises and revelations into one, and often lapses into sitcom triteness. But she brings a warmth and generosity to all the characters, and veteran actor Tzi's quiet performance as the Wong's damaged patriarch helps root the film's histrionics in genuine, understated emotions.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: R
- Review: First-time feature filmmaker Georgia Lee's family drama focuses on the three very different daughters of a suburban Chinese-American couple. Newly retired Ed Wong (Tzi Ma) and his wife, homemaker Mai-Li (Freda Foh Shen), devoted their lives to raising hard… (more)