The term “eastern culture” is often used as a cover for curbing individual freedom. It is said that “Easterners” should be polite, gentle, dress closed, and so on. In fact, if it is not used as an excuse for restraint by conservative conservatives, the term can be interpreted positively. Through the works of Asian filmmakers, we can see the true embodiment of “eastern culture”, which is rich in cultural values, sensitivity, generosity, and, not to mention, spirituality.
Regarding the above problems, Taiwanese films have recently shown more spurs. Like last year’s A Sun, Little Big Women (both broadcast on Netflix), which was adapted from a short film entitled Guo Mie (2017), also presents family dynamics wrapped in warmth. In both versions, the main character is played by Chen Shu-fang, who won Best Leading Actress at the Golden Horse Awards for her role in the film (as well as Best Supporting Actress for her role in Dear Tenant). Best Movie Site
Lin Shoying (Chen Shu-fang) was welcoming her 70th birthday, when her husband, who had been missing for 20 years, suddenly died on the same day. The celebration party turned into a funeral. Three of Lin’s daughters gathered. Ching (Hsieh Ying-xuan) the eldest with a free-spirited personality who is taking care of a divorce, Yu (Vivian Hsu) the successful plastic surgery doctor who comes with his teenage daughter, Clementine (Buffy Chen), and Jiajia (Sun Ke-fang) who living at the same time managing the restaurant with his mother.
The secrets of the past are revealed (several flashbacks appear to show important events), the old wounds that have not fully healed are also exposed. Especially when Lin found out about Tsai Meilin (Ding Ning), a woman who had been her late husband’s lover. A father / husband who is fond of having an affair, then leaves without saying goodbye for decades, only to return home in a lifeless condition. It’s easy for the audience to condemn and hate, but what his family feels is certainly not that simple. Movie Review
Director Joseph Hsu co-wrote the script with Maya Huang, based on his grandmother’s life story, as a medium to convey that hate is easy, but it won’t heal. Little Big Women brings its four female characters in the process of forgiving and letting go. Not for the sake of those who leave the world, but for those who still have to move on, find peace and happiness. Because in truth, the process is much heavier, requires more strength than throwing hatred.
The focus is warmth. The warmth arises from the interaction of family members, which of course is not always filled with gossip, debate, or tears. There must be laughter. Unexpectedly, Little Big Women has a pretty crazy sense of humor (in a positive sense). The moments of “prayer fighting” and “cockroach” are some of the highlights.
The script divides the space of the four female characters equally. Even five, because Clementine was given exploration rations according to portions, without forcing her character to act too mature. Lin remains at the core of Little Big Women, and Chen is able to bring a mother figure who is often stubborn without losing sympathy. No less strong is Hsieh, who adds dynamism, as the only female figure in the family who likes to break barriers in the name of freedom.
As a wrapper for the brilliant performance of the cast was Joseph Hsu’s sensitivity, both as a writer and as a director, as I mentioned at the beginning of my writing. Sensitivity that is “very oriental”, because it is closely related to the meaning of family values, as well as spirituality. For example, when Lin tied a red thread around the belly of a pregnant woman (there is another context in this moment that I can’t mention). A belief that is interpreted correctly in essence, namely as an expression of affection, rather than being a ritual carried out out of habit or obligation. Top Movie
Meanwhile, more general sensitivity can be seen in various karaoke scenes. First, at his birthday party, Lin sang a song about losing a partner. As the scene was over, the background music faded away, leaving Lin’s voice behind, radiating his mixed heart. And it feels like there is no need to discuss the closing scene. Please watch it for yourself and have a good time in tears.