I HAD KNOWN HER FOR A LONG time; yet I was still surprised when she told me the reason why she was going to college. Up until that time she did okay in school, nothing above average though. When she told me she wanted to attend college, I had asked her why and she told me she wanted to find a husband. To hide my shock I used my humor by asking her if it would be cheaper to sign up for a dating service. I had to appreciate her honesty, but the idea that college would be the place to find a mate sounded farfetched; there was no guarantee she would find on campus someone to marry. Yet, she was determined and sure enough in her junior year, she met a senior student and fell in love with him. They dated for a year before deciding to get married. During that period, I met him a couple of times when they would drive back home for a weekend visit. He seemed nice, but he had what I refer to as a salesperson’s personality. No disrespect to the people in that profession, but he had a list of catch phrases he depended on when participating in a conversation. Also, he never offered an opinion that was different from the person he was interacting with in a conversation. I did not detect much sincerity behind his statements as a result. THE TWO GOT MARRIED A COUPLE of months after his college graduation. They settled into married life and seemed to be happy. I would see them from time to time and as far as I could tell they seemed fine. There was one thing I noticed however. When they were together, she seemed to talk less. I could not put my finger on it, but it seemed as if he was always the one to make any type of decisions. He never lost the catch phrases, but his delivery of them seemed to have an edge to them now. This continued for a couple of years before my friend started to show up to events without him. At first, she offered excuses for his absences; but it was not too long before she finally confessed she was unhappy and filing for a divorce. I offered support and told her if she needed to talk I was available anytime. She never took my up on the offer and I did not push the subject. Though, one time she did share with me she regretted her years focused on finding a husband because they blinded her to her husband’s faults. I wondered if she could leave her regrets behind to move forward. This was the same thought I had for the main character in this dramatic film. YOUNG GROVER’S, PLAYED BY HONG-CHI Lee (City of Rock, Baby) dream was to move to the United States. Moving there meant leaving the ones he loved behind; a decision that would come with regrets. With Tzi Ma (Arrival, The Ladykillers) as Grover, Christine Ko (Hawaii Five-O-TV, Dave-TV) as Angela, Fiona Fu (Power Rangers, Blood and Water) as Zhenzhen and Joan Chen (Love in Disguise, Judge Dredd) as Yuan; this multigenerational film had an authentic, touching story that was easy to follow. With the beautiful filming, I was thoroughly involved with the story. The acting was well done, as the story would shift between Taiwan and the United States. I did not feel as if the script was trying to manipulate me; each pause in the dialog allowed the actors to express true emotion in my opinion. The story has a certain universal appeal that I think many viewers will connect to and appreciate. I have always said for every action there is a reaction. When it comes to affairs of the heart one can only hope for the best by striving towards a goal. Several scenes were spoken in Chinese with English subtitles.
RARELY DOES DEATH HAVE A PRETTY face. I hope when my time ends here I die peacefully in my sleep. Surely, I am not the only one who wishes for this to happen. The first time I ever saw the face of death it was on a woman with cancer. I did my best not to show my horror when I walked into her hospital room. She had turned her head towards me when I knocked on the open door of her room. Her eyes once prominent and bright were now dull and sunken deep into her skull. The thing that shocked me the most was her teeth. They looked huge because of the wasting away of her face. Dimples once deep and defined were just vertical lines now, accentuating the prominence of her teeth. I swear, they looked like they belonged to a carnivorous animal. The dry, chapped lips were stretched thin. She smiled at me; I wondered how much effort that must have taken her. A nurse stopped in to check on her vitals and give her a few ice chips to suck on. It took everything for me not to lose control of myself. I knew this was going to be the last time I would see her alive. I COULD NOT STOP THINKING ABOUT her. Though we never talked about it, it must have been brutal to be aware of the cancer that was taking the life away from her. By the time she died there was a sense of relief among her survivors. I realized right then that the longer a person stays in the throes of a disease, the easier it becomes for the survivors to say goodbye. No one wants to see a loved one suffer; by the time a person succumbs, those left behind are relieved their loved one is no longer in pain. On the other hand, I realize when a person dies suddenly it is harder for their survivors to deal with the unexpected death. I had a friend who was driving their sister to an event and the sister, at some point, raised her hand to her head saying she had a sharp pain. That is all she said because she died instantly from a brain aneurysm. Except for the immediate sharp pain in the sister’s head, she did not suffer; however, the other sister did not recover from that experience for years. Not that she would ever recover completely. Death as you can see has been on my mind since I watched this comedic drama. THE DECISION WAS MADE NOT TO tell her grandmother she had cancer; but Billi, played by Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians, Ocean’s Eight), did not know if she could live with that decision. This film festival winning movie also starred Tzi Ma (The Ladykillers, Arrival) as Haiyan, Diana Lin (Australia Day, The Family Law-TV) as Jian, newcomer Shuzhen Zhao as Nai Nai and Ines Laimins (Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong, Lady Bloodfight) as Kathy. Overall, I enjoyed this picture. Many of the themes in this story have been told before; but here there was a different perspective put on them, which I attributed to the Chinese culture. I wish I could say Awkwafina was outstanding in her role, but I honestly wonder if there could have been more drawn out of her. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very different role for her and I thought she did an excellent job; but, I wanted to see more intensity in her character. Again, it may be because I am not completely schooled in Chinese culture. The humor in the story grew organically for me as it came out of family dynamics. If I was put in such a position as Billi, I do not know how I would have handled the situation. Instead, this picture made me think about what I would want done for me if I fell ill. At times Chinese was spoken with English subtitles.
3 ¼ stars