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My Wedding and Other Secrets (Film Review)

currently: awake and cold.

EDIT: Thanks for linking my review on your blog site. Appreciate the mention :D

Good morning world and those that inhabit Auckland as it is 13 degrees celcius right now. Seriously though, who turned on the air conditioning? I broke out my tights today to wear with my skirt, and I wish I had lace gloves cause my hands are freezing right now.
Anyway, my favourite student mag, debate (yes I'm bias) have printed my review of Roseanne Liang's film 'My Wedding and Other Secrets' which I had gone to see last Saturday with Boyfriend which was quite interesting to do. If you consider the fact that I'm a Kiwi Asian with a white boyfriend, we are able to relate well to the story. Minus the nerd Dungeons and Dragons game. And the fact Boyfriend would rather eat pancakes and waffles all day instead of Weetbix.
But yeah, I consider you go see it. Don't watch Red Riding Hood like some of my friends want to. It's directed by the same person who did 'Twilight'. So its bound to be crap not as good as Liang's film.

You can read online on the AuSM site (just look for "debate issue 5 2011"). Or for your convenience - it's here too. Enjoy :D

My Wedding and Other Secrets
Directed by Roseanne Liang
Grade: A

There was one word that ran through my mind through most of this movie: Awkward. The characters are awkward and the situations are awkward, but it is this awkwardness that gives the movie its strengths, making it a captivating and charming Kiwi romantic comedy.

Directed and co-written by Kiwi Chinese Roseanne Liang, this film is based on her own complicated cross-cultural love story that was originally showcased in the 2005 documentary, Banana in a Nutshell. Set in Auckland, the character Emily (played by Michelle Ang) is an ambitious but geeky film student with large nerdy glasses and a dream to make a spectacular Kung Fu feature film. Liang’s real life husband is recreated as the white and nerdy, cereal-loving James (Go Girls’ Matt Whelan). Put these two characters together and it becomes an awkward situation where both of them “don’t know how to kiss,” but quickly fall into love.

Both unfortunately were unprepared for the reality that Emily’s traditional Hong Kong immigrant parents (played by Kenneth Tsang and Cheng Pei Pei) would disapprove of Emily’s relationship with a man who wasn’t Chinese. Emily, with fears of becoming disowned, pulls James into a Romeo and Juliet romance, trying desperately hard to hide their relationship and still remain the obedient Chinese daughter her parents want. But as Emily’s plans to keep everyone happy end up pushing them away, she begins to realise that there is a deeper meaning to love she had not seen before.

This film is filled with so many different conflicts as it deals with the issues of love, relationships, families and ambition. Ang and Whelan portray their respective characters with great comedic personalities, entertaining the audience through their range of odd and awkward mannerisms. However, when the story does get serious, their frustrations on screen feel so painfully personal that an audience can’t help but sympathise, relate and feel emotional at their situations.

There are also many references to the cross-cultural differences between Pakeha and Chinese. At times it is very comedic, such as James’s disturbed encounter with a cooked chicken head, or his Mandarin conversations with a Chinese female grocer. But there is an underlying truth that in reality, both cultures can still fail to understand and accept one another, something which was interesting to showcase to a multicultural audience.

The only flaw I find with this movie is the lack of screen-time some of the secondary characters got. James’s flatmates, Neil (also known as big-haired Cash Convertors Guy) and Tom, were two really entertaining comedy characters that I wished had more to say throughout the film. Same with Emily’s sister, Susan, who had an interesting back-story, but not much said about her current situation through the film. Also, Eric, Emily’s filmmaking ‘frenemy,’ gets a drastic haircut in the middle of the film where his hair goes from a long Kurt Cobain hairstyle to a short hipster cut. When he had reappeared in the middle of the story, I didn’t recognise what character he was, which had me momentarily distracted.

Ultimately, My Wedding and Other Secrets provides a new take to the merging cultures of the European and Chinese that hasn’t previously been seen in a New Zealand feature film. Though the storyline of complicated relationships is not something new to cinema, Roseanne Liang’s true life story brings a fresh, funny tale in a familiar Kiwi setting. For a true love story, this is a story that shows love in its truest form.

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