ReviewWriter: Ian YapWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast:
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"Rice Rhapsody" is about a single mum, Jen Fan and how she's going about dealing with the fact that two of her three sons let her down by pulling a George Michael on her. Jen's feet are more or less planted firmly on the traditional part of life, she wants grandkids, 'normal' sons, and the way things are going Jen isn't going to get any.
Her last hope is Leo, her youngest son. Leo stays with Jen, helps her out, and most importantly, isn't openly gay. Jen plots with Kai Chui, the owner of a duck rice stall just down the road from her chicken rice shop, to 'confirm' Leos sexuality by housing a most delectable French foreign exchange student at Jen's.
The big word for this show is 'acceptance'.
It's about how Jen learns to accept her sons for who they are. Jen is an old-fashioned Chinese mum, she runs her own chicken rice business, consults fortune-tellers and monks, and prefers a Chinese sensei
to a proper doctor. She's also surrounded by others like her, her friends bug her about her lack of grandchildren, thus pushing her further into a corner where she cannot have or be who she believes she should be. It gets even more dismal when we learn that her two eldest sons have come out of the closet after having relationships with girls.
Here, in Jen, we see someone who has worked so hard to bring up her children to her ideals, and when she's so sure she's achieved it, they get dashed and vanish like dust in the wind. To me personally, that would sting worse than a million bees.
As the movie flows along we learn that Jen's failure to accept how others are is her own fault, and how it chips away at the joy of those around her.
When she finds Leo sleeping with French girl Sabine she's ecstatic, but when Leo shows heartbroken sadness at the departure of his good buddy, Jen snaps - snaps with enough anger to cast away your last hope. Seriously, your son is depressed because his best friend left Singapore, and you think he's gay AND slap him silly. Goes to show that sometimes when all that comes to you in life is dirt, you wont recognise a good thing when it comes a-knocking.
Kai Chui is in love with Jen, he brings her things everyday, be it duck rice or a vase of flowers. Jen knows it, but her failure with men, namely her dead husband and her sons cause her to reject Kai Chui's efforts. I don't know where Kai Chui's confidence comes from but he is genuinely persistent despite her rejections.
So on one side we have Jen, on the other side of the rift, all the men in her life. Sabine would sit somewhere in the middle.
Sabine is the catalyst for change. She's also a vegetarian hippy. She won't eat chicken or spicy vegetables, more acceptance woes for Jen. Sabine is Jen's total opposite, she's a free spirit, accepting all as they are. You can see that even though she doesn't eat meat or chilli, she doesn't hate Jen for offering them to her. You could say she and Kai Chui are the moral of the story, how love and open understanding bring about happiness for oneself and the people who love you.
The acting was good, Sylvia was an excellent brooding mom, and Martin more or less played the funny, silly, Yan we know from "Yan can cook". The younger cast couldn't really hold their own against them, but still gave a commendable performance.
"Rice Rhapsody" flowed well, but I somehow feel that the influence of Sabine towards Jen's change was overtly monumental. The bonding between those two wasn't fully developed save for a line of quick commentary, and more on their friendship would've been appreciated. If you don't mind the slight plot jump, "Rice Rhapsody" is worth the watch.Cinema Online, 23 September 2008