On a Sunday evening in Taipei, semi-retired chef and widower Zhu prepares a feast for his three daughters. Jia-Jen, the eldest, is a chemistry teacher who devotes herself to Christianity after facing heartbreak from her college ex-boyfriend. The second daughter, Jia-Chien, is an executive at an airline company. She wanted to become a head chef like her father but he claimed that it was not for a woman. Jia-Ning, the youngest, is a college student who works part-time at a Wendy's fast food restaurant.
At dinner, Jia-Chien announces that she has invested in a new apartment and will be moving out once construction is complete. Surprisingly, Mr. Zhu approves. Jia-Chien criticizes the flavor, claiming Mr. Zhu's taste is deteriorating. Mr. Zhu dismisses the idea before suddenly rushing off to help his (and Jia-Chien's) long-time friend and \"taster\", Old Wen, at a banquet. Afterwards, Mr. Zhu wonders with Old Wen if there is anything more to life than eating, drinking, man, and woman. Meanwhile, family friend Jin-Rong stops by the Zhu residence with her daughter Shan-Shan. Jin-Rong vocalizes her difficulties with a messy divorce while being responsible for work, Shan-Shan, and her opinionated mother, Madame Liang, as she returns to Taipei from America. Jia-Jen comforts her while Shan-Shan colors a caricature of Mr. Zhu.
Wei Ming Dariotis and Eileen Fung, authors of \"Breaking the Soy Sauce Jar: Diaspora and Displacement in the Films of Ang Lee\", wrote that Jia-Jen's story is that of a \"spinster turned sensual woman\". They wrote that her Christianity was there \"perhaps to match her role as a mother-figure\". She suspects Jia-Chien of disapproving of her moral system. Dariotis and Fung wrote that after Jia-Chien states that she needs not a mother but sister, Jia-Jen \"is able to become who she really is with all the complexity that entails\" rather than being someone she believed her family needed, with \"who she really is\" being \"a modern, conservative, Christian, sexually aggressive Taiwanese woman\". Desson Howe of The Washington Post wrote that of the actresses, Yang was the \"most memorable\".
The film is revolves around the three daughters of a father who is widowed. The Confucian philosophy requires women to adhere to moral integrity. According to the philosophy, women are supposed to posses three qualities as far as a virtuous woman is concerned. First, they should be subordinate to the father before they get a husband. The woman is also supposed to be subordinate to the man she gets married to. Finally, the Chinese culture requires that the woman be subordinate to the son after the husband passes on. All these makes up the Chinese woman as far as chastity is concerned (Xinzhong 26).
Taiwanese-born American filmmaker Ang Lee, best known to Western audiences for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2001) and Brokeback Mountain (2005), directs/writes Eat Drink Man Woman (1994), a delightfully charming romantic comedy whose plot threads all neatly tie together. Aging master chef Chu (Lung Sihung) has a family tradition on Sundays: to eat dinner with his three daughters, the old maid and schoolteacher Jia-Jen (Kuei-Mei-Yang), the beautiful and successful businesswoman Jia-Chen (Chien-Lien Wu), and college student Jia-Ning (Yu-Wen Wang) who works at a fast food joint. In Eat Drink Lee expertly paints a portrait of the concerns of familial relationships and suppressed personal feelings in the foreground with succulent feasts as a backdrop. The dinner table, initially secretly derided as a tortuous experience, becomes an important forum for life-changing announcements as father and daughters independently seek the recipe for love in their personal lives.
That's especially true of Eat Drink Man Woman, a wise and touching piece that matches movies like Babette's Feast and Like Water for Chocolate in its depiction of food as a source of spiritual nourishment. Sihung Lung, so memorable as the father in The Wedding Banquet, here plays another parent, this one a culinary wizard who relates better to his dishes than to his three daughters: Jen (Kuei-Mei Yang), a schoolteacher still feeling the pain from a long-ago college relationship that ended badly; Kien (Chien-Lien Wu), a savvy businesswoman unable to find stability in her personal life; and Ning (Yu-Wen Wang), a perky fast-food employee who finds herself attracted to her best friend's boyfriend. The food on display will make mouths water, but don't assume this film is merely the cinematic equivalent of a high-end menu: The various relationships among the characters prove to be as intricate and delectable as the dishes, and the piece packs a potent emotional reach.\" 59ce067264