Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

The Joy Luck Club (1993)

Directed by Wayne Wang

Starring Kieu Chinh, Tsai Chin, France Nuyen, Lisa Lu


Instead of Four Rooms, it could be called “Four Chinese Flashbacks.” And they just get old. Each flashback is predictable and boring. You see them coming from miles away; they are not meshed with the present very well, cheesy dialogue or a cheesy stare or a cheesy camera technique always seems to give them away. Flashbacks should glide between people, not hop between them. Sure, we get a glimpse of what made the characters, but nothing really happens in the present to give the film forward motion. And as soon I started to empathize with a character, they’d rip me away from flashback and we’d jump to another.

All characters, no story. And the characters are all the same! Seeing an Asian woman crying and whining at the injustice of life over and over again gets old. It could have been really good if the story had focused on only one character, while embodying the spirit and emotion of the other three characters (which would be easy because they are all so similar anyway). And how about a male perspective/character? It would have been more interesting to see the situations from the POV of a man once in a while.

The semi-sentimental meeting at the end doesn’t make the whole story. An awful lot of wannabe dramatic moments, and a lot of fake emotion. The stale acting certainly doesn’t help. The main character’s deep concentration and then surprised expression when someone talks to her or offers her something is fucking annoying, and it’s dumb how the characters’ expressions change as the voice-overs change mood. It’s as if the character is listening to the voice-over. Emotion with a voice-over looks dumb. Expressions should change only if you see a character speaking. The dialogue is pretty shitty too. Cheesy, obvious metaphors. It FEELS like a movie.

Not even made too well technically. It looks like they forgot to balance the film for the tungsten light in the ballroom and the daylight in the exterior shot.

Obviously made by a guy who wants to release his frustrations with Chinese traditionalism in contemporary America in a film.

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