Dim Sum | Chicago Reader

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Wayne Wang's second feature represents a huge technical advance over Chan Is Missing (the camera is steady and the image is largely in focus), yet the few interesting aspects of the earlier film (the use of genre conventions to investigate cultural identity, the open structure) are themselves missing here, replaced by a modest hope to beguile. Virtually plotless, the film is set in San Francisco's Chinatown and focuses on the relationship between a mother and a daughter; though the girl wants to marry, she feels she has to stay with her parent during her declining years. The characters are kind and lovable, yet our attachment to them is compromised by Wang's apparent inability to develop a scene very far beyond the 60-second mark (it's sort of the cinematic equivalent of writer's block). The effect of all these abrupt, inconclusive vignettes is to make Wang's minimalist narrative seem weirdly frantic and abrasive.

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