Ang Lee is perhaps best known in the LGBT community as the director of Brokeback Mountain, for which he won the Best Director Oscar back in 2005.
10 years later comes the DVD release of his first three films, known as “The Father Knows Best” trilogy, which share several cast members and explores tensions between old and young, between east and west and between the family and the individual.
The trilogy picked up two Oscar nominations for Best Foreign Language Film and contain the same emotional maturity and depth as his notable subsequent films (Sense and Sensibility; The Ice Storm; Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon; and The Life of Pi). The three films that make up the trilogy are “Pushing Hands”, “The Wedding Banquet” and “Eat Drink Man Woman”.
Each start out with the same premise: parents struggling to cope with modernity whilst maintaining their traditional beliefs and their children trying to both appease their parents and embrace modern lives filled with opportunity. However, each has a unique heart capable of breaking yours.
The best of the bunch is “The Wedding Banquet” which is a culture clash coming-out comedy. “Eat Drink Man Woman” explores the role that food has in Chinese culture – where the art of cooking demonstrates love rather than the easy words “I love you”. And “Pushing Hands” is Ang Lee’s debut feature with the outlines of themes that dominate the remaining films in the trilogy. That said, they are not po-faced dramas.
There are moments of great humour along with a sprinkling of Confucian quotes. This trilogy will resonate with those from an immigrant background or those who struggle against traditional beliefs or those who have difficulty communicating with their loved ones or those who are parents or those who have been children. In essence, it will resonate with all of us.