Director: Fruit Chan
Mrs Lee is not coping well with ageing. Her vanity leads her to seek potions and powders to keep the wrinkles at bay, until desperation leads her to Mei and her rejuvenation dumplings. But when you make a meal-deal with the devil, don't ask what's in the filling.
Christopher Doyle's gifted eye captures the grim visual nuances of this macabre Fruit Chan tale. The dough-wrapped delicacies at the story's centre take on a sinister aspect when their true nature is revealed. Hints and explanations come early, as the point is to join in the deliciously dark fantasy rather than simply solve a mystery.
[Dumplings], in competition (Panorama) in this year's Berlin Film Festival, is based on a marvellous novella by Lillian Lee and is a resoundingly successful narrative experiment for Chan. The audience is swept up in the secrecy of visiting a shabby high-rise for a weekly fix of succulent, pink dumplings. We share the guilt when Mrs Lee comes to accept, and then secretly relish, the origin of this culinary Fountain of Youth. Pass the sauce.
Contains scenes that may offend some viewers
D/S Fruit Chan P Peter Ho-sun Chan WS Fortissimo Film Sales L Cantonese, Mandarin w/English subtitles TD 35mm/col/2004/91mins
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