Ang Lee’s (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, among others) Eat Drink Man Woman is really a lovely comic-melodrama about family and personal relationships. Did I mention the food? If you’re a cinema food fetishist, you’ll love this film, and have probably already seen it.
The opening sequence, in which the family patriarch and master chef prepares his traditional Sunday meal for the family is a classic. It had my mouth watering! Mr. Chuu is brilliant in the ways of traditional Chinese cooking, but (a widower for many years) not so fine a father it seems. At home he’s seen as something of a tyrant who runs roughshod over his three daughters. The film follows the stories of the three daughters, especially the middle daughter Jia-Chien (Chien-Lien Wu). She’s a beautiful, and very successful airline executive who really wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a chef. The culture really didn’t allow this however.
The broad metaphor for the film is that Mr. Chu has ironically lost his sense of taste. He’s not really happy. In their own ways, neither are his daughters. Like all melodramas that broadly concern life, there are ups and downs, but things have a way of working themselves out in the end. The ending is a bit hokey, but would you have it any other way?