The Wedding Banquet Review

Image for The Wedding Banquet

Gay yuppie Wai Tung Gao, a naturalised American, has never come out to his Taiwanese parents. They pester him to give them a grandson so he proposes to Wei-Wei, a struggling artist who needs citizenship. When his parents insist on a huge ceremony, Chao has to pass off his doctor lover Simon (Mitchell Lichtentstein) as a live in landlord and replace his muscle guy pin ups with calligraphic scrolls.


Though an interesting attempt to discuss racial, national, sexual and generation identities and the conflicts that arise when the loyalties inherent in these groupings conflict, this early, small-scale Ang Lee film is mainly a wry, nicely observed romantic comedy.

It is perhaps a little too soft sometimes ‑ Wai‑Tung and Simon have a relationship so idealised you'd never believe it if they were straight ‑ but for the most part, the laughs keep coming as the enforced deceptions get more intricate.

Considerably funnier and much more pointed than the similarly-plotted La Cage aux Folles, it has wonderfully farcical moments in the wedding feast that threatens never to end as a horde of guests invade the honeymoon suite to play mah jong and humiliate the happy couple. But it also pulls off lovely smaller moments, as when Simon deftly teaches the inept Wei‑Wei how to stir fry properly while the girl is trying to impress her future parents‑in‑law with her traditional Chinese kitchen skills. And the resolution shows everyone in a good light, as it comes out that no one is quite as bigoted as everyone else thinks they are.

A gentle, surprising movie, this cross‑cultural favourite advanced Lee towards the big leagues.

Cultural clashes all over the place in this sweet and gently comedy.