Double Happiness

Double Happiness

5.0 2
Director: Mina Shum

Cast: Mina Shum, Sandra Oh, Stephen Chang, Alannah Ong

     
 
Family ghosts, generational conflict, and the immigrant experience frame this episodic comedy-drama about a Chinese-born Canadian woman's quest for self-definition, which marked the debut of writer/director Mina Shum. Jade Li (Sandra Oh), an aspiring actress in her early twenties, lives at home with her strict father (Stephen Chang), her dutiful mother (Alannah Ong),

Overview

Family ghosts, generational conflict, and the immigrant experience frame this episodic comedy-drama about a Chinese-born Canadian woman's quest for self-definition, which marked the debut of writer/director Mina Shum. Jade Li (Sandra Oh), an aspiring actress in her early twenties, lives at home with her strict father (Stephen Chang), her dutiful mother (Alannah Ong), and her sweet younger sister, Pearl (Frances You). Their older brother, Winston, has been disowned -- a fate Jade is not eager to share, both for her own sake and to spare her family pain. Therefore, although she manages to land a few bit parts on camera, Jade spends most of her time working in the shop owned by a family friend, performing the duties of a respectful daughter and suffering through arranged dates with prosperous young Chinese men. An adept cultural chameleon, though, she also leads a double life, hanging out with best friend Lisa (Claudette Carracedo) and beginning a tentative romance with Caucasian college student Mark (Callum Keith Rennie). When her father's childhood friend arrives for a visit, however, Jade must juggle her competing identities even more carefully than usual, lest her choice of professions -- and boyfriends -- shame her father. After premiering at the 1994 Toronto International Film Festival, Double Happiness won several international awards and made its U.S. bow at Sundance in 1995. Writer/director Shum -- who, like her protagonist, was born in Hong Kong but raised in Canada -- appears briefly on camera as a casting director who doesn't think Jade is Chinese enough. Oh, who is actually of Korean descent, won a best actress Genie Award (the Canadian equivalent of an Oscar) for her portrayal of Jade. The part of Dad Li marked a departure for Chang, a frequent martial arts movie villain and real-life friend of Bruce Lee.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Brian J. Dillard
This alternately sweet and sour look at the first-generation immigrant experience manages the difficult task of balancing cultural specificity with universal humor and filmmaking chops. In one early scene, first time feature writer/director Mina Shum and her talented cinematographer, Peter Wunstorf, frame a bilingual family dinner as one long take by placing their camera on a lazy susan and rotating from one character to the next; this gimmick was later copied on countless amusing episodes of That '70s Show, but here it's used to convey both the conflicts and the camaraderie of an immigrant family as it tries to balance tradition with opportunity. The script's procession of meddling aunties, ceremonial peace offerings, and secret identities will be instantly familiar to many children of immigrants regardless of their countries of origin or residence. But both Shum and her smart protagonist, Jade -- played with luminous grace and sly humor by Sandra Oh -- are smart enough to speak to multiple audiences without making anyone feel excluded. Generational conflict is fairly universal, so the overall story translates smoothly for audiences who might not have first-hand knowledge of Chinese culture. That's not to say that Double Happiness is perfect; some of Shum's formal strategies aren't as successful as others. For every scene as powerful as the long tracking shot where Jade runs furiously into the darkness, fed up with her cultural juggling act, there's another where a character awkwardly addresses the camera directly. Still, the generally fine performances -- especially Stephen Chang and Alannah Ong as Jade's parents and Callum Keith Rennie as her quirky Anglo boyfriend -- help smooth over any such rough edges. The easygoing comic tone helps keep the heavier aspects of the subject matter from weighing the picture down, while the coming-of-age plot arc provides a familiar framework for Shum's refreshingly unfamiliar story.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/17/2007
UPC:
0014381138429
Original Release:
1994
Rating:
PG13
Source:
Image Entertainment
Time:
1:27:00

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Sandra Oh Jade Li
Stephen Chang Dad Li
Alannah Ong Mom Li
Frances You Pearl Li
Johnny Mah Andrew Chau
Callum Keith Rennie Mark
Donald Fong Sau Wan Chin
Claudette Carracedo Lisa Chan
Barbara Tse Mrs. Mar
Leslie Ewen Carmen
Greg Chen Uncle Bing
Estelle Coppens Lead Woman
Nathan Fong Dr. Ming Chu,Bartender
Dennis Foon Director
Kevin Kelly Lead Man
Gene Kiniski Man at Bus Stop
Tosca Chin Wah Leong Linda Taylor Wong
Mimi Mok Mrs. Mar
Laara Ong Selina
Tony Seaver Bouncer
Wong Shuck See-Fu Geomancer
Mina Shum Janet Eng
So Yee Shum Auntie Bing
May Tam Grandmother
Rose Lam Waddell Producer

Technical Credits
Mina Shum Director,Songwriter,Screenwriter
Ann Anderson Casting
Michael Bjornson Production Designer
Ken Dangerfield Consultant/advisor
Debra Dawson Animator
Candice Dickens Art Director
Anya Ellis Makeup
Frank Faugno Sound/Sound Designer
Alison Grace Editor
Jill Haras Art Director
Stephen Hegyes Producer
Harley McCanley Songwriter
Gregory Middleton Camera Operator
Shirley-Anne Parsons Asst. Director
Robert Petrovicz Production Manager
Tim Richardson Musical Direction/Supervision,Sound Mixer
Carmen Ruiz-Laza Casting
Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet Score Composer
Cynthia Summers Costumes/Costume Designer
Rose Lam Waddell Producer
Peter Wunstorf Cinematographer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Double Happiness
1. Introduction; Main Title [3:24]
2. Rehearsing [5:29]
3. What Jade Wants [5:39]
4. The Pick-Up [11:06]
5. Red Bean Buns [4:00]
6. Uncle Ah Hong [6:59]
7. 555-Mark [7:23]
8. A Date With Andrew [9:35]
9. The King of Karaoke [4:25]
10. An Unexpected Visitor [5:56]
11. Another Audition [2:46]
12. Dr. Ming [2:51]
13. Pattern of Frustation [5:37]
14. Jade's Decision [3:30]
15. Moving Out [5:45]
16. End Credits [2:38]

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Double Happiness 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The film is definitely a must have, it's funny, romantic, encouraging, and dramatic. Sandra Oh was wonderful in this film and there was great direction and writing from Mina Shum. For anyone who aspires to become a film director (like myself), this is a great film to follow by!