Monday, April 28, 2014

The Joy Luck Club 喜福会

 Released Year: 1993
Directed by 王穎 Wayne Wang

Casted by:
 Kieu Chinh as Suyuan Woo
Tsai Chin as Lindo Jong
France Nuyen as Ying-Ying St. Clair
Lisa Lu as An-Mei Hsu
Ming-Na Wen as June Woo
Tamlyn Tomita as Waverly Jong
Lauren Tom as Lena St. Clair
Rosalind Chao as Rose Hsu Jordan
The Joy Luck Club was formed by four women; Lindo Jong, Ying-Ying St. Clair, An-Mei Hsu, and Suyuan Woo, in San Francisco. The members have mainly played mahjong and told each other's stories over the years. They immigrated from China, remarried, and gave birth to children in America. Suyuan's daughter June replaced her when Suyuan died four months before the time the film is set. The mothers have high hopes for their daughters' success, but the daughters struggled through "anxiety feelings of inadequacy and failure." Throughout the film, the mothers and daughters bond by learning to understand each other and overcoming their conflicts.

The film begins with June's short narrative prologue about the swan feather in the opening credits and then her farewell surprise party in San Francisco for June's upcoming reunion with her long-lost twin sisters in China. Among the guests are members of The Joy Luck Club, their daughters, other relatives, and friends. The following characters below narrate their journeys to the audience while they reflect upon their pasts.

Lindo and Waverly
In China, four-year-old Lindo is arranged, by her mother and the matchmaker, to be married to Huang Tai Tai's son when she grows up. When Lindo turns fifteen, her mother sends her to Huang Tai Tai, so Lindo marries Tai Tai's son, Tyan Hu, a pre-pubescent boy who has no interest in her. During four years of childless and loveless marriage, she is frequently abused by her frustrated mother-in-law, who believes Lindo's childlessness is her own fault. Lindo eavesdrops on the servant girl telling her lover that she is pregnant, so Lindo realizes her chance to leave the marriage without dishonor. Later, Lindo purportedly ruins her clothes and then claims that she had a nightmare in which Tyan Hu's ancestors threatened to punish her, Tyan Hu and the matchmaker. Then Lindo claims that the ancestors impregnated the servant girl with Tyan Hu's child. Tai Tai does not believe Lindo until Tai Tai quickly discovers the servant's pregnancy through inspection. Finally, Lindo claims that the matchmaker intentionally wrongly paired Lindo and Tyan Hu for more money. Tai Tai orders the matchmaker out of her family's life, allowing the servant girl to have her marriage. Lindo is able to escape the house and moves to Shanghai.

Years later in America, Lindo has a new husband, a son, and a daughter named Waverly. Aged between six and nine Waverly, has become a chess champion. Annoyed by Lindo using Waverly to "show off" at the streets, Waverly shouts at her mother and decides to quit chess. When she tries to play it again, Waverly loses one chess round, prompting her to retire from chess. Years later, she has a daughter Shoshana from her Chinese ex-husband and is going to marry a Caucasian fiancé, Rich, much to Lindo's chagrin. In order to make Lindo like Rich, Waverly brings him to a family dinner, but he fails to impress them especially by improperly using chopsticks and marinating the dish with a sauce, humiliating Waverly. A while later, at the hair salon, Lindo retells her moments with her own mother, and declares that she likes Rich very much, she then gives marital blessings to Waverly and Rich, prompting her and Waverly to reconcile with each other. At June's farewell party, Rich almost successfully uses a chopstick but accidentally drops a piece, impressing Lindo.

Ying-Ying and Lena
In China, Ying-Ying St. Clair was happily married to Lin-Xiao with a baby boy in China until Lin-Xiao abused her and abandoned her for an opera singer. Overcome by her depression, Ying-Ying drowns her baby son in the bathtub. Years after she immigrated to America, she suffered from trauma and was haunted by her past, frightening her new family, including her daughter Lena. After Ying-Ying finally resolved her years of trauma, Lena shows Ying-Ying around her new apartment with her husband Harold, who is also Lena's boss. Lena is uncomfortable with her financial arrangements with Harold. They split the costs of their life evenly with a list of things that they share, making their home life contentious. Lena feels her husband has no respect for her. Seeing that Lena is unhappy with her marriage, Ying-Ying knocks over a table in the bedroom and causes the vase on it to fall and break. Lena goes to her mother, and admits her unhappiness. Ying-Ying replies that Lena should leave and not come back until he gives her what she wants. At June's farewell party, Lena is shown to have another fiancé and announces her plans to go to Lake Tahoe with him.

An-Mei and Rose
Nine-year-old An-Mei Hsu is reunited with her long-lost mother, who was disowned by her family for her "dalliance" with a wealthy middle-aged man Wu-Tsing shortly after her husband's death, and who arrives to see her dying mother. In order to not lose her again, An-Mei moves out with her mother to Wu-Tsing's house against her relatives' wishes for her to remain with them. She finds that Wu-Tsing has another three wives, making An-Mei's mother the Fourth Wife. Later, she learns that the Second Wife tricked An-Mei's mother into being raped and impregnated by Wu-Tsing. When the relatives did not believe An-Mei's mother and kicked her out, she reluctantly became Wu-Tsing's Fourth Wife as she had nowhere else to turn. After she gave birth to a boy, the Second Wife took him away from her and claimed him as her own. After An-Mei discovers the past, her mother ultimately commits suicide by eating "sticky rice balls" laced with opium, choosing the day of her death carefully to threaten Wu-Tsing with the vengeance of her angry ghost. Afraid of this curse, Wu-Tsing vows to raise An-Mei and her half-brother with great care. When the Second Wife tries to stop Wu-Tsing from letting this happen, An-Mei suddenly destroys the remains of the faux pearl necklace, indicating that An-Mei is aware of the Second Wife's cruelty and manipulation. Second Wife backs down, realizing the trouble she caused for An-Mei's mother and that she lost control of the house.

Years later in America, An-Mei's daughter Rose has been dating her boyfriend Ted Jordan since college. When he confronts his aristocratic mother for insulting Rose mainly due to her race, Rose is impressed and agreed to marry him. During the marriage however, Rose and Ted become distant from each other, and despite their problems Rose remains submissive to Ted. They have a daughter but this does not resolve their marital problems. To make matters worse, Ted cheats on her with another woman. An-Mei compares Rose to her own late mother. To avoid having the same fate, Rose stands up to Ted, reclaiming her strength, by telling him to leave the house and not take a daughter away from her. This compels Ted to take her seriously and not continue taking her for granted. At June's farewell party, Rose shares with Ted a slice of cake and feeds him frosting as they share a loving moment.

Suyuan and June
In World War II, when the Japanese invaded China, Suyuan Woo escaped the invasion with her twin baby daughters. When Suyuan became ill with dysentery during her quest for refuge, her cart breaks down, causing the babies to fall. Near death, Suyuan was unable to carry the babies herself and abandoned them along with all of her other possessions, including a photo of herself. Suyuan survived, but was haunted by the loss of her daughters and never knew what happened to them.

After she remarried in America, Suyuan has high hopes for her new daughter June, but June constantly fails to meet her expectations out of a lack of interest. She performs badly during a piano recital at age nine, and when Suyuan pushes her to continue training to be a concert pianist, June refuses, saying that she wishes herself dead like Suyuan's other daughters. At a dinner party a year before Suyuan's passing, Waverly Jong, June's long-time rival whom she is freelancing for, turns down her business ideas, and Suyuan implies Waverly has more style than June. The following day, June berates Suyuan for her remarks and admits she could never live up to her high expectations. June says that Suyuan is disappointed in her because June dropped out of college, is never married, and does not have a successful career. However, Suyuan gives her a jade necklace and explains that she meant June has a far kinder heart than Waverly and has style that she was born with and that cannot be taught.

Last Easter before the farewell party, June received the news from the Club that the long-lost twins were alive. When June could not understand the twins' letter written in Chinese, Lindo purportedly mistranslated the letter to make June believe that the twins knew about Suyuan's death and their long-lost half-sister June. When the farewell party ends, Lindo confesses that she wrote letters to the twins and then signed Suyuan's name. June begs Lindo to tell them the truth, but Lindo will not interfere further because the twin sisters still believe Suyuan is alive and that June must tell them herself. When she arrives in China to meet her sisters, June tells them the truth about Suyuan, and embraces them. In finally accepting her Chinese culture, June is able to make peace with her deceased mother.
 L² Scored: 9/10

L² Comment:
A very good movie and i love it so much, the stories of 4 pairs of mother-daughter which also realted to the mother & mother's mother. The concept of the storyline is based on the novel by Amy Tan and it is so good, i recommend all of ya to watch it...

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