The Wedding Banquet

1993, Movie, NR, 107 mins

Review

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THE WEDDING BANQUET is a farcical, freewheeling account of what happens when one half of an interracial gay couple gets married to a woman in order to satisfy his parents' dearest wish. The film has a universal appeal that crosses all racial and sexual divisions, and will be of particular delight to anyone who has ever experienced an elaborate wedding ceremony.

Manhattanites Gao Wai Tung (Winston Chao) and Simon (Mitchell Lichtenstein) are an ideal same-sex couple: young, attractive, successful. Pressured by his parents in Taiwan to marry, Wai Tung takes up Simon's suggestion that he make a marriage of convenience with Wei-Wei (May Chin), a rebellious, decidedly untraditional artist who needs a green card. Wai Tung's parents (Sihung Lung, Ah-Leh Gua) put a major kink in the proceedings when they come to Manhattan for the wedding. With all five characters in nervously close cohabitation, Wai Tung and Simon's townhouse becomes a setting for Feydeau-esque confusion: the lovers must sleep apart; undomestic Wei-Wei pretends to whip up the flawless Chinese dinners that are, in fact, secretly prepared by Simon; and so on. The wedding ceremony, ensuing banquet, and closely supervised honeymoon bring further complications.

Taiwanese director Ang Lee has pulled off one of the most congenial, richly affectionate extended party sequences ever put on film: the banquet is a creamily photographed, cartoonish modern variant of those elaborate, over-populated Chinese scrolls depicting the human comedy in all its infinite sentiment and absurdity. Lee sustains the bubbling hilarity, but also provides quieter, deeper observation of the characters' motives and moods. leave a comment

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