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The Joy Luck Club


*This entry is part of a mini-feature, High School Nostalgia: books-turned-movies that were discussed during my high school years.
Cast:  Kieu Chinh, Tsai Chin, Tamlyn Tomita
Director: Wayne Wang

The book is thick but well written and quite entertaining. A book about mothers and daughters, it transitions to their experiences, back in China and now in America, and how they try to bridge cultures and teach each others the ways of another. I liked this book, I did. It wasn't my favorite high school reading but because of its wonderful message (and it does make for light reading), I have read it a couple of times. This movie, on the other hand, while it did reach out the message of the book, failed to hit the mark that the book was trying to leave the readers with. I felt that half of it was unattached, with the other half expressing much of the emotion and sorrow that the book was trying to define.

The movie is told through 8 perspectives, but it all roots down to one event, the death of June's mother, Suyuan. Suyuan play mah jong with three other ladies, who in turn, had their own experiences in China and with the upbringing of their own daughters. The daughters, June, Waverly, Lena and Rose, have their own experiences with their mothers and their own growth and experiences with other people. 

I like the stories of the older women more. It touched on Asian themes that were evident through the rich heritage of the Chinese culture. Not to mention, it was told in a more beautiful state of story telling. The hues used in the scenes help with the emotion and the atmosphere that their stories are trying to tell. The present  stories (stories of the daughters) on the other hand, doesn't stand out when it comes to story telling. They were told in the same manner, in the same method, with nothing standing out. Even the actors lacked the emotions that their characters were trying to convey, unlike in the past, where even the child actors had the scorned look on their faces, embodying the emotions. 

I found the movie quite mediocre. It is a beautiful story, yes, but it did not translate well in film. While the mood of the film never faltered, there were really scenes that were more tragic and hard-hitting. The script was filled with numerous sayings, and it does fit the family bill. It really is a tale that is made to build cultural bridges, especially when living in another environment. It teaches that wherever you go, your heritage, your culture, goes with you. A good read, if you're into reading for a long haul. 

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