The Joy Luck Club (1993)

Director: Wayne Wang

Writers: Amy Tan & Ronald Bass, from the novel by Amy Tan

Stars: Tsai Chin, France Nuyen, Lisa Lu, Ming-Na Wen, Tamlyn Tomita, Rosalind Chao, Lauren Tom

A farewell party for a young Chinese-American woman who is about to leave for China to visit the sisters she has never met provides the backdrop for an anthology of intriguing stories told in flashback. 

Three immigrant woman from China (Tsai Chin, France Nuyen, Lisa Lu) recall the difficult journey from pre-Revolutionary China to their present comfortable San Francisco lifestyle, while their four daughters (Ming-Na Wen, Tamlyn Tomita, Rosalind Chao, Lauren Tom) remember how difficult it is to please their demanding mothers, who are still very much influenced by a culture that the daughters have never experienced.

It is the universal dilemma of the newly immigrated, this cultural disconnect between parents and children, but this film also touches upon family issues that anyone can recognize.

The complex story is made perfectly clear through a skilled screenplay (by Ronald Bass and Amy Tan, from her novel) and direction (by Wayne Wang). 

One dark cloud: like so many stories about ethnic women, the men are portrayed almost exclusively in an unfavorable light.

Asian-American writer and scholar Frank Chin has accused Amy Tan of inventing legends and cultural practices that did not exist in China, but which reflect poorly on Chinese men and portray Chinese culture as being more misogynistic than it really is.

Is he right? 

I don't know. 

If so, many of those fabrications are certainly repeated in the film, which would be unfortunate. 

Nevertheless, I was moved by this story.


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