Eat Drink Man Woman

Eat Drink Man Woman, directed by Ang Lee, Taiwan, 1994

A line taken from the Classical Text by Mencius:
“It is human nature to want food and sex.”


chefchuMr. Chu, a widower for 16 years living with his three grown daughters; a gourmet chef in an extravagant restaurant in Taipei and a master of Chinese culinary art who, ironically, has lost his sense of taste; very devoted to his daughters’ well being but the father role also keeps him from taking on a wife; after daughters becomes independent and start their own families, marries a divorcee living next door with her mother, also a widow, and her daughter; his sense of taste comes back to him after his second marriage; sells his house and moves out
Jia-Zhen (Jen), eldest daughter; a public high school chemistry teacher and a pious Christian; exercised keenly by her role as a filial daughter; compelled by her Christian and Confucian morals to resist temptations of sensual pleasure and other enjoyments in life as inappropriate and immoral; invents an abandonment story by a lover as excuse not to be pressured into relationships that would take her away from her father; her self-imposed status of a spinster ends when she falls in love with and marries a colleague [Min Dao] in physical education department, and moves out from her father’s house

Min Dao, single and works in the physical education department at the same high school as Jiazhen; very athletic; rides a high-speed motor bike to work everyday; becomes a born again Christian when he and Jiazhen are married;

Jia-Qian (Chien), second daughter working as a successful publicist for a Taiwan airline; independent and open-minded; still feels guilty for being happy and free because of the traditional morality on female virtue that puts the care of her father above her own enjoyment in life; enjoys cooking and domestic life but tries to be a “professional woman” to please her father; loses money on buying a condo apartment that turns out to be a scam; after her dates back out from commitments, turns down a job promotion to work in Amsterdam, and return to live in her father’s old house in Taipei now empty
Jia-Ning, youngest daughter (20 years old) waitressing in a Wendy’s restaurant in Taipei; lets herself be involved with a boy [Guo Lun] trying to date one of her co-workers and marries him after she becomes pregnant; moves out of her father’s house;

Guo Lun, originally involved romantically with one of Jia-Ning’s female co-worker in Wendy’s restaurant who plays hard to get; frustrated by traditional romance in which the man is expected to take the initiative; becomes interested in and quickly married to Jianing who is unconventional and not bashful in dating

liangMrs. Liang, neighber to Mr. Chu and a widow with two grown daughters both married and living in the U.S.; one daughter [Jin-Feng] whose husband is a white man used to be classmate to Jia Zhen; and the other daughter [Jin-rong] has come back to Taiwan after divorce; hits on Chu only to be told that he plans to marry her daughter
Jin-rong, daughter of Mrs. Liang and a single parent (after divorcing her American husband); finds Mr. Chu attractive and very attentive to her daughter, marries him and quickly becomes pregnant, very much to the chagrin and dismay of her mother


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