Year Released: 2001
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 23 minutes
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Ah, Spring. The time of year when love is in the air. When eager, idealistic young couples take that leap of faith and make their way down the wedding aisle. Couples not unlike Heather (Caisha Williams) and Chester (Marty Yu). Actually, come to think of it, maybe those other couples aren’t like these two after all. Nor are there many wedding ceremonies quite like this one, what with a bluegrass band called “The Alabama Slammers” banjo-ing their way through “Here Comes the Bride” with a subtle but distinctive Oriental twang and all.
Chester, you see, is a Chinese-American…not that he really pays any attention to the hyphenate part. If anything, he goes out of his way to ignore his Asian heritage and just be one of the guys. Heather, on the other hand, more than compensates for Chester’s lack of cultural appreciation. Although she’s about as Anglo, future soccer mom-ish as they come on the outside, Heather has wholeheartedly and fervently embraced Chinese culture since her adoption by Chinese-American parents.
It’s this reverse culture clash — Heather’s frustration with Chester’s refusal to embrace his heritage, his exasperation with her attempts to “be Chinese” — which causes their wedding day feud in director Eric Hwang’s unique and sweetly amusing comedy “White Rice.” The film opens with bits of home movie video clips, thus quickly and efficiently introducing the viewer to all the players. Hwang then brilliantly deconstructs the wedding day, intercutting the ceremony with scenes from the couple’s argument and bits from both the bride’s and groom’s camps, to gradually put the couple’s pieces back together again.
It’s a surprisingly effective, almost impressionistic means of storytelling, if you’ll excuse my feeble attempt at sounding like an art snob. That’s because the film won’t make a lot of sense until the viewer steps back and looks at the story as a whole; each scene fitting together perfectly when seen in its proper context.
Thankfully, the performances here keep the viewer engaged long enough for the storytelling to come into focus. Kudos must go specifically to the comely Ms. Williams, whose naively passionate Heather never becomes too overbearing in her true believing, as well as to Yu’s portrayal of the charismatic, if thick-headed Chester.
So, it’s down the aisle and into the blizzard of celebratory rice they go. And, just as the coming of Spring casts everything anew, “White Rice” tells its time worn tale in a novel and warmly engaging manner.
Posted on December 17, 2003 in Reviews by Merle Bertrand
If you liked this article then you may also like the following Film Threat articles:
- CHESTER TURMOIL
- MI HUA GAO (OR THE CHINESE RICE KRISPIES SQUARE)
- CATCH “SAVING FACE” EARLY IN LOS ANGELES
- WHAT I HATE ABOUT MYSELF
- FOLLOW YOUR HEART: CHINA’S NEW YOUTH MOVEMENT (DVD)
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