review by Neo
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FOOD to FAMILY values!
Last review I started with em... so this one I will start with Ah... actually I already started. The reason I am saying this is that both films share a similar theme - family values, but somehow one excels in it and the other (House of Fury) just use it as some sort of sidekick or cameo appearance. In saying that Rice Rhapsody is a indie movie that can be seen as a counterpart to last year's Butterfly which controversially showed Lesbian relationships to be erotic and sexy, while this one reinforce to the audience of the seemingly acceptance of gays in society. It raises simple yet complex questions about whether you truly accept gays when not one but all three of your sons are GAY. It follows the path of a mother - divorced, having to deal and face the reality of her sons and her unwillingness to acceptance will only lead to further hardships for not only herself but also her already brave sons. While Neo has never been a fan of gays, he does understand what the movie is trying to express - always live life first and other things goes after...
The story goes like this: Hainan Chicken Rice is a famous Singaporean cuisine. But in Rice Rhapsody, it means much more than just a delicious dish. It nourishes our souls as much as it does to the bodies. Chicken Rice embodies warm familial affection and is adding rich flavor to people's lives in the film. Food, family and love interweave to form a story that is going to touch all. Jen (Sylvia Chang) raises her three sons alone by running a restaurant famous for Hainan Chicken Rice. A traditional mother who looks forward to grandchildren, she has all her hopes on her youngest son Leo (Tan Lepham) because both her elder sons are gay. Collaborating with her neighbor Kim Shui (Martin Yan, the famous TV Chef), also a restaurant owner, Jen hopes to arouse Leo's interest in girls by having a young and passionate female exchange student from France moving in. Meanwhile Jen finds Kim Shui's newly invented Hainan Duck Rice challenging her self-esteem. She runs into a cooking contest with Kim Shui, but then she discovers something more important to her than her chicken rice...
All in all, Sylvia Chang gave a performance of her life, and her abilities to show a full range of emotions and trapped in a world within world that her mind is in and her inability to ironically the one to face the reality of the situation comes Chang as a totally confused internally mother. In a role that many mothers of gays and les around the world can relate to, this is truly a performance from a veteran. The movie is not simply talking about the acceptance of gays and shit, but rather a movie that attempts to show another side of the story, not just the family perspective, but from a very traditional loving mother's point of view. The way the movie works is basically the presence of Chang, but what created a meaning and life and hope in this movie is very much due to the philosophy of the French girl. True to the art and stereotype of French girls being extremely open and romantic and existential at the same time, this girl is a perfect fit to that and the way she acted although novice like - she displayed the sort of freedom type of girl that gives hope to everyone in the film and also reflecting her message (director's) to the audience.
The quote of "Life first, things later..." is one that is extremely existential, but yet very relevant as people in today society are all too ready to conform, rather than even attempting to take any risks in their lives as the real purpose become one thing - money. The gays in this film is easily exaggerated, but at the very least they openly come out of the "cupboard" (I forgot how to spell the other word), yet the way they are filmed are by no means offensive, as lucky there are no intimate sex scenes (lucky man). The existential ideals of the meaning of life is totally random and one moment something can happen this way, something else happen instead... It shows that life is basically unpredictable, and more importantly romance can never be forced, even if you set someone up or even have sex with them, if they are not meant to be together, or their hearts are not sew, then you can never zip them up. While all these seems like a load of bullshit, this films somehow works and the way it reminds the audience about the "real" purpose of life - it just adds that extra layer to it.
I rate it 8.75/10
on this movie on HK Neo Reviews Forum
Directors: Kenneth Bi Kwok-Chi
Cast: Sylvia Chang Ai-Ka, Martin Yan Man-Tat, Maggie Q,
Reviewed by Andrew (Neo), April 2005