Dumplings - (2004)
Updated: Mar 15
Director: Fruit Chan.
The moment I stumbled upon another Hong Kong film lensed by the legendary Christopher Doyle, I couldn't wait to watch it. While some online sources categorized it as a horror film, I found that to be an oversimplification. Sure, there are elements of the horror genre, but watching Dumplings was a multi-dimensional experience that defies easy categorization.
The theme of a "fountain of youth" was presented in a clever way, using the metaphor of the dumpling, which is like an egg and a fetus wrapped in its mother's flesh. This dish becomes a consumer product for regaining youth, and it's fascinating to watch the characters' reactions to it.
The supporting actress's performance was also impressive. She played the role of the dumpling maker with a creepy yet seductive allure that drew me in. Her acting was subtle yet powerful, making her character a standout in the film.
However, I did have some issues with the cinematography. Christopher Doyle's work was amazing, capturing the beauty and character of Hong Kong. But there were a few mistakes that were not fixed in post-production, which were very obvious and distracting. Also, as a non-Cantonese speaker, I found it challenging to read the subtitles while simultaneously enjoying the visual aspect of the film.
The biggest letdown for me was the main character and her story. Despite the film's beautiful cinematic world and themes, the main story was not engaging. I couldn't relate to the main character, and her pursuit of youth to regain her husband's love did not come across as a strong enough motive to go to such an extreme as eating a fetus. Perhaps this is due to a lack of establishing the conflict between her and her husband, but regardless, I found it hard to invest in her story.
Overall, I really enjoyed "Dumplings" despite its flaws. It's a film that delivers a powerful message about society's obsession with youth and beauty, and how far people are willing to go to achieve it. While the film's main story may have fallen short, the supporting performances, clever themes, and striking visuals make it worth watching.
Verdict: 3.5 / 5 ★ - good.