Soursweet is an aptly titled charmer about a Chinese family living in a dismal suburb of London. Pic sympathetically explores the insidious ways in which Chinese emigrants have to adapt to life in Britain after moving to London from Hong Kong.
Adapted from Timothy Mo’s novel, the film opens with an elaborate wedding ceremony for a young couple (Sylvia Chang, Danny Dun) held on the outskirts of Hong Kong. Shortly after, the couple moves to London, where Dun finds work as a waiter in a crowded Chinatown restaurant.
Dun goes through a period in which he becomes indebted to a seedy moneylender who works for one of the two gangs who seem to control the Chinatown underworld. The couple soon moves to the suburbs, where they start a modest Chinese restaurant in a rented house. After a slow start, the place prospers, and gradually friendly links are formed with the locals.
It’s the small details that are most significant. The way a little boy discovers at school that the Chinese way of fighting, taught to him by his mother, is considered unfair. Or the way traditional Chinese customs give way in the face of British culture and lifestyle; french fries replace noodles.