I am surrounded by the overbearing traditional Chinese family.
Let me back up. If you couldn't tell by my byline, I'm not Chinese. How could an overbearing traditional Chinese family possibly surround me? Well, that's not what I said. Simply, I have either had the misfortune to only meet people of Chinese descent with the worst parents ever, or the weight of coming from a traditional
household is really as bad as it's said to be. Even if the trope holds true, that doesn't mean it hasn't been done
That's where indie darling and Calgary ImaginAsian Film Festival headliner Red Doors finds itself at its outset. Certainly that is neither a bad nor clichéd set point per se for a story, particularly one espousing Asian culture at a film festival aimed at doing so.
The biggest problem is borne from the fact that the portions of the movie spent whining about coming from a traditional family are just plain boring.
The story opens with and centers on the dysfunctional Wong family, complete with suicidal father Ed, unbearably strict mother May-Li and distressed, rebellious daughters Samantha, Julie and Katie. It's in the first dinnertime
conversation that most of the significant plot points are exposed and wacky family antics ensue.
As the movie rolls, we get a better sense of some of the characters, the stories of Ed and Katie being particularly interesting. Ed has an existential dilemma like every father in every dysfunctional family flick ever, but the manner in which he tries to resolve it is refreshing. Katie, the hip-hop teen angst element, has a prank war with a crush that is arguably the best material in the
Unfortunately for the rest of the family, you could pull out the Chinese tradition v. Zeitgeist handbook and make a checklist: shy, underwhelming closeted homosexual has trouble coming to grips with sexuality and
family role, check; successful child scans big empty apartment and realizes success isn't everything in life and has trouble coming to grips with family role, check; staunch mother has trouble defining family roles for everyone,
It's hard to accuse a quasi-autobiographical piece (such as writer-director Georgia Lee has admitted Red Doors to be) of lacking substance, but with it's broad focus, this is exactly what the film does. Despite it's flaws, Red Doors is still a watchable movie. After all, even the borderline cliché sub-
narratives are well shot and well thought-out; they're just kind of, well, boring.