From the first time I heard about this film, I knew I would enjoy it and I just couldn’t wait to see it. For those of you who may not know, this film is based on the documentary Banana In A Nutshell, in which the same director, Roseanne Liang, directs and stars in. It follows the life/love story of Liang herself. I watched it a few years back and really enjoyed it. Obviously this is a topic that is close to her heart as six years later, the film adaptation is born.
Liang paints a very candid picture of what it is like being an Asian living in a Western country and the struggles of balancing between feeling like you relate more to the “Western ways” and feeling that you need to stay true to your roots too. Being a self-proclaimed banana, I can definitely relate. People usually laugh or are pretty amused when they find out I’m a banana and I do feel it is one of my “quirks” that make me, me but in all seriousness sometimes it is a struggle – I always never quite know where I belong.
The two stars that play Liang and her now-husband Stephen are perfectly embodied by Michelle Ang and Matt Whelan. The natural chemistry between them make their performance believable and certainly if you are in a relationship like theirs (very common in Auckland), no doubt you will relate to the cultural issues that they face!
Some bits really hit home for me and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Brought back some good memories too which is always nice!
I loved how Liang seamlessly translated her story from being told as a documentary to unfolding as a full feature film. The story arc had good pacing and nice character development, especially with the family members. Interesting use of camera angles and the music perfectly complemented the action on screen – these are two aspects of film-making I always look out for when I watch a film, that’s what you get for studying film for two years!
What makes the film brilliant is how strongly and accurately stemmed in reality it is – she does play with some known Asian stereotypes but she does it in a non-stereotypical way, if that makes any sense!! For example, it is pretty common knowledge that Asians have an “unconventional” food palate, in that Asians will eat anything! This is often cast in a negative light – “those crazy Asians, how could they eat monkey brain” – but in this film, the “crazy food” brings the family together for a meal, and is a sign of affection and “giving the best” to a loved one.
My favorite part was when the couple were making fun of each other’s choice of breakfasts – that is so spot on and I have to say that I have had that “discussion” before!
Sadly I feel this film will not do as well as it definitely deserves, most likely because many people will just fob it off as “just another boring cheap Kiwi film”. My Wedding & Other Secrets couldn’t be furthest from that description! Yes, it is a Kiwi film but it is one with a lot of heart, humor and bite. It really looks very intimately into what I consider to be quite a common phenomenon here in NZ. If you are Asian and going out with a “kwai lo” – or vice versa – then you definitely have to watch it because it will speak to you and give you a good laugh! And if you are not, then still go see it anyway – at the very least it will be educational and hopefully insightful!
The Whimsical Banana rates My Wedding & Other Secrets: 4/5 Bananas