×

My Wedding and Other Secrets

A familiar cross-cultural dramedy conceit gets sparkling treatment in helmer/co-scripter Roseanne Liang's "My Wedding and Other Secrets," a dramatization of her highly praised autobiographical documentary "Banana in a Nutshell" (2005).

With:
With: Michelle Ang, Matt Whelan, Cheng Pei-pei, Kenneth Tsang, Katlyn Wong, Celeste Wong, Simon London, Janet Tan, Josh Thomson, Todd Emerson, Gareth Yuen, Mike Ginn, Johnny Barker. (English, Mandarin, Cantonese dialogue)

A familiar cross-cultural dramedy conceit gets sparkling treatment in helmer/co-scripter Roseanne Liang’s “My Wedding and Other Secrets,” a dramatization of her highly praised autobiographical documentary “Banana in a Nutshell” (2005). This story about a New Zealand-born Chinese girl hiding her white boyfriend from her tradition-minded parents reps a winning combo of laugh-out-loud humor and genuinely touching heartache. A local B.O. hit last March, “Wedding” has the universal truths and broad appeal to win admirers on the fest circuit, and ace casting of Hong Kong vets Kenneth Tsang and Cheng Pei-pei as the parents could help land niche engagements in Chinese-lingo territories.

In a lovely meet-cute, super-enthusiastic film student Emily Chu (Michelle Ang) is pitted against lanky white boy James Harrison (Matt Whelan) in the university fencing club. Most auds should warm instantly to the clever but rather clumsy girl who wants to make martial-arts movies and the nerdy nice guy aspiring to design computer games. The perfectly cast leads are delightfully convincing as they share a first kiss and James declares his encounter with Emily to be “the best and only date I’ve ever had.”

Popular on Variety

It’s true and secret love straight away. Knowing that Emily’s old-fashioned father, Dr. Chu (Tsang), and traditional housewife mother (Cheng) would never approve of any non-Chinese suitor, the young couple carry on a clandestine romance that becomes trickier when, at about the one-third mark, the lovebirds tie the knot.

Narrative smoothly slides from the funny hijinks of ducking and weaving around Emily’s parents to the inevitable strain on the relationship. Surrounding Emily and James with an engaging collection of friends and relatives, the screenplay by Liang and Angeline Loo offers rewarding commentary on cultural values and the damage caused by living a lie.

The difference between taking the accepted path and breaking the rules is poignantly noted in the side stories of Emily’s sisters, favored child Melanie (Celeste Wong) and Susan (Katlyn Wong), whose past romance with a white boy raised the specter of being disowned by her father.

Neatly balancing the serious/funny equation are James’ endearingly geeky housemates Neil (Josh Thomson) and Tom (Todd Emerson). A few gags fall flat along the way, but most viewers should easily forgive and forget. Crucially, Tsang and Cheng are given dignified roles that never turn Emily’s parents into objects of derision. The yarn benefits significantly from Emily’s flinty relationship with Eric (Simon London), a pretentious film student who eventually helps her make a docu about her unwieldy situation.

Liang’s brisk and breezy direction is complemented by Richard Harling’s appropriately simple and effective lensing around Auckland. Snippets of Liang’s Super 8 homemovies are delightful. Other technical work is solid on a modest budget.

My Wedding and Other Secrets

New Zealand

Production: A Sony Pictures NZ release of a South Pacific Pictures production, in association with the New Zealand Film Commission, NZ on Air. (International sales: High Point Media Group, London.) Produced by Paul Davis, John Barnett. Directed by Roseanne Liang. Screenplay, Liang, Angeline Loo, based on the documentary "Banana in a Nutshell" directed by Liang.

Crew: Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Richard Harling; editor, Eric De Beus; music, Andrew McDowall, Bic Runga; music supervisor, Jonathan Hughes; production designer, Gary McKay; art director, Paul Murphy; costume designer, Sarah Voon; sound (Dolby Digital), Chris Burt, Stefan Brough; stunt coordinator, Tim Wong; line producer, Janet McIver; assistant director, Richard Matthews; casting, Christina Asher. Reviewed at Melbourne Film Festival (Next Gen), Aug. 5, 2011. (Also in New York Asian-American, San Diego Asian film festivals.) Running time: 88 MIN.

With: With: Michelle Ang, Matt Whelan, Cheng Pei-pei, Kenneth Tsang, Katlyn Wong, Celeste Wong, Simon London, Janet Tan, Josh Thomson, Todd Emerson, Gareth Yuen, Mike Ginn, Johnny Barker. (English, Mandarin, Cantonese dialogue)

More Film

  • Zola

    'Zola,' the Stripper Tweetstorm Movie, Premiered to Warm Reception at Sundance

    “Zola,” the A24 movie based on a viral Twitter thread, premiered to laughter and applause on Friday at the Sundance Film Festival. The film is based on a mostly true story tweeted in October 2015 by Aziah Wells King (nickname: Zola, played by Taylour Paige). King recounted, in highly entertaining fashion, her journey from Detroit [...]

  • Alma Har'el with Lucas Hedges and

    DGA Marks Inclusion Milestones on the Eve of Awards Ceremony

    Two months ago, the Directors Guild of America heralded a major milestone in its long push for inclusion in the television industry. The DGA’s episodic television director inclusion report found that half of all TV episodes in the 2018-19 season were directed by women or directors of color for the first time. “Inclusion has been [...]

  • Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg Quibi

    Jeffrey Katzenberg, Meg Whitman Explain How Quibi Differs From Other Streamers

    Jeffrey Katzenberg has heard the chatter about streaming wars, but the media mogul thinks that when the dust settles, the fight to attract audiences won’t end with just a few victors. “Everybody suddenly wants to declare winners and losers and the fact is there’s only winners and winners right now,” he said during an interview [...]

  • Anaconda

    'Anaconda' Reboot in the Works at Sony With 'Divergent' Writer

    Sony Pictures is in early development of a reboot of the “Anaconda” franchise, hiring “Divergent” writer Evan Daugherty to write the project. The studio has not set up the project with a producer, director or actors. Sony released the original “Anaconda” in 1997 as a horror thriller starring Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight, Eric [...]

  • Annabella Sciorra

    Friend Tells of Annabella Sciorra's Mid-1990s Struggles at Harvey Weinstein Trial

    A longtime friend of Annabella Sciorra testified Friday in Harvey Weinstein’s criminal trial that the actor turned to cutting herself and exhibited other troubling behavior in the mid-1990s after she was allegedly raped by the disgraced film mogul. The defense questioning of model Kara Young got heated as Judge James Burke sustained repeated objections to [...]

  • Mike (WILL SMITH), Marcus (MARTIN LAWRENCE)

    Box Office: 'Bad Boys for Life' to Lead Weekend With $26 Million

    Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life” is dominating North American moviegoing with about $26 million at 2,155 sites, early estimates showed Friday. Universal’s World War I epic “1917” will finish at a distant second with about $13 million in the wake of receiving 10 Academy Award nominations and the top film award from the Producers Guild [...]

  • Bambi

    'Bambi' Is Next Up for Disney Live-Action Remake

    From bears to lions to deer: Disney is developing a live-action remake of its 1942 animated feature “Bambi,” Variety has confirmed. Screenwriters Geneva Robertson-Dworet (“Captain Marvel”) and Lindsey Beer (“Sierra Burgess Is a Loser”) will write the screenplay, with Chris and Paul Weitz’s Depth of Field producing. The film will employ the same photo-realistic CGI used on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content