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A Reflection on the Two Chinese Films ‘Together’ and ‘Eat, Drink, Man, Woman’

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A Reflection on the two Chinese films ‘Together’ and ‘Eat, Drink, Man, Woman’

Mainland China’s Together tells the story of a young boy named Xiaochun who happens to be a brilliant violinist, and the sacrifices that he and his father had to make in pursuit of his musical success. On the other hand, Taiwan’s Eat, Drink, Man, Woman revolves on the relationship of an elderly master chef with his three grown-up daughters. These are two films which tackle how Chinese people interact and relate to one another as members of one family while pursuing their own personal goals in life. Both films exhibit the Chinese people’s love for the arts, such as music and cuisine, and their usually unspoken concern for their loved ones. Such emotions are contained by the person because expressing them may be taken as a sign of exposing or revealing one’s vulnerable side; basically, a sign of weakness. Eat, Drink, Man, Woman has a delightful take on the dynamics of a modern-day Chinese family. Despite having three daughters, the aging master chef Tao Chu finds himself managing a household that’s anything but submissive. The three women have developed very different personalities, and all are pursuing different careers in the industry – the only time that they will all come together is during the Sunday ritual dinner wherein their father will prepare several dishes for them to share. During the first half of the movie, Chu was portrayed to have lost his sense of taste, thus resulting in very bad-tasting dishes. This event may be significant of his loss of zest for life, possibly because everything that he has been and still is doing has already fallen into a boring cycle that, for him, doesn’t offer much for him anymore. What he does has become a mere routine that he has to go through everyday, but nothing he does really mean anything to him anymore. It’s not that he has absolutely lost the will to live, but Chu is a picture of a man who is tired of doing the same things every single day, and is looking for a chance to turn all of it around – he’s looking for that magic ingredient that will add spice to his life once again. The title of the film captures what Chu, according to him, absorbs himself with in the past days: eat, drink, man, woman is all that he does – nothing more, nothing less. In this admission, we sense how he dislikes the mediocre path that he’s taking and how badly he wants to get away from it. At the end of the film, we see how master chef Chu regains his sense of taste once again when he decided to visit his middle daughter and tasted the soup that she made. This is significant of his newfound appreciation of life, and the result of his successful quest to find the magic ingredient that will once again make his life interesting and worth living. After all that has taken place – the marriage of two of his daughters, a new love in his life, a blessing waiting to be born and a wonderful sense of contentment abounding among his family – Chu definitely is a man who has every right to be happy and is truly blessed to have regained his enthusiasm to live.

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