14 July 2006 | wanderingpoet
A moving insight into family and tradition
I came across Yin Shi Nan Nu just by chance, when one day I was sorting DVD's in my local store. I was curious about the name in Spanish, and I have seen other movies by Ang Lee, but I have never repented for my sudden decision to take the movie home. This is a brilliant portrait of a family on the verge of being torn apart by their personal differences and the ominous presence of modernity, which has started to undermine the roots of the traditional Taiwanese family life. The presence of traditional Chinese Cuisine, in which Chu is both a master and the heir to hundreds of years of knowledge, serves as the perfect background to place the characters, as a metaphor for a way of life that is quickly disappearing, threatened by fast food and changes in family values. The director does not, however, focuses on mellow or sweetened scenes to show the conflict, but he maintains a humorous tone throughout the movie, placing the actors' performances on subtle gestures and witty lines which rely heavily on understatement and comedy-like situations. The basic premise of the movie suggests that change is not only inevitable but also necessary. However, the old values still need to be cherished and passed on to the next generation since they are the foundations which give sense and meaning to a life which tends to assimilate happiness to disposable items and economic success. In doing so, Chu and her daughters get reconciled, as well as their traditional background comes to terms with modernity.