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Eat Drink Man Woman

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Eat Drink Man Woman

Eat Drink Man Woman
Set in his home-country, Ang Lee direct this 1994 film about a widowed father and his relationship to his three daughters. I had heard great things about the film and thought it might be useful to show gender, several generations of a family or even things about Chinese food culture. The father, a great chef, cooks elaborate Sunday meals as his only way to bring the family together—though he has little ability to communicate and connect. Each of the three daughters is facing her own struggles—the youngest is meeting her first love, the eldest is struggling with being an “old maid” and the middle daughter is facing the challenges of a successful corporate career.


In the interview with the director (in the additional footage), Ang Lee explains that the Confucian father is awkward and stiff in his communication. Lee highlights the importance of community over the individual in Asian culture by centering the film on the cooking of food and the meals which is a community event. Ang Lee also talks about the contrast between the traditional and the modern in the film and shows how long-standing traditions interact with modern schedules and modern families (that include divorce).


The film is a family drama with comedic elements. Even though I enjoyed the film I am not sure it is very useful for teaching. Perhaps the initial scene might be useful in the classroom. The opening scene shows the father cooking a most elaborate and beautiful meal. This scene could be used to connect students to food as a part of culture—perhaps in an English class or a History course. It could also be used to look at inter-generational relationships and how modern life is impacting traditions. Finally, with regard to the entire film, which is in Chinese with English subtitles and I think it would only really be appropriate for a Chinese language class.