08/29/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT
Sihung Lung, Chien-Lien Wu, Kuei-Mei-Yang, Yu-Wen Wang, Winston Chao, Ah-Leh Gua
Despite his claim that "I don't understand any of them, and I don't want to," a widower spends every Sunday in his kitchen cooking up huge feasts for his three daughters, using his tantalizing dishes as a substitute for all the words that are unspoken in this family. These meals—during which each participant makes an announcement that rocks the family—are at the heart of this delightfully warm movie by Taiwanese director Ang Lee (whose equally appealing The Wedding Banquet was nominated for a best foreign picture Oscar last year).
What makes Lee's films so engaging is the generosity of spirit that he extends toward all of his characters. Each reveals unexpected sides, particularly the father (Lung, in a finely calibrated performance) as he figures out what to do with himself in retirement, and the middle daughter (Wu), a hard-driving corporate executive who can't forgive her father for not allowing her to wok like a man and become a chef.
Not since Babette's Feast has there been a movie in which food played such a prominent role. Whether it's the clay-baked chicken, shark-fin soup or shrimp-paste dumplings, the gustatory goodies served up here—with the exception of something called stinky tofu—will have you making a beeline for the nearest Chinese restaurant once the movie's over. (No rating)