Reviewed by: Inner Strength
My Rice Noodle Shop is a good example of the standard of movies to be made in Taiwan over the last few years especially that so many people never get to see. This story is based on the book Blossom Bridge which I recall reading about some years ago but never read it. But from what I remember of it, the movie portrays it very well.
Although the main film is set during the 60s, it flashes back to various stages in her life years earlier to before and when many mainland Chinese had to flee to Taiwan in order to escape the problems in China due to Mao. A lot of these people end up in Rong Zhangs (Carol Cheng) noodle house who share the stories of the problems they had faced, and how they had left everything behind them.
She is a carefree woman who leads a simple life, always interested in others problems whilst trying to run her family business just on the outskirts of Taipei. She also had lost everything years earlier as she has gone from a famous restaurant to a noodle shop. Her husband disappeared too whilst serving in the army. There are many flash backs in the film which makes an interesting change, a little like King Of Chess I would say, which is a very good film incidentally.
There are several interesting customers to the shop, each of which shows character depth, making it very clear who everyone is and giving the feeling almost that you know them. One of the local residents (Lu played by LAM Gin Wah) is a frequent visitor to the shop, and becomes obvious that they have always secretly liked each other. He plays a schoolteacher, who is not the happiest person in the world, and is always pleased to see Zhang when he needs someone to talk to. He too leads a simple life, but is very easy to be controlled and taken advantage of.
Although the story as whole may seem a bit empty from what I have said, that is not the case. And besides, there is plenty to keep you watching anyway. The beautiful scenery for a start. As is the well designed sets, costumes and music which all fit for the time in which this film is based. It is not a heavy drama, though caution should be given to anyone who is not a keen fan of the lighter drama based films. Still, given the fact this is now available on DVD as well as VCD, it is certainly worth checking out.
It is so good to see Carol Cheng playing this character, as the majority of her film career was as a comedian, there is nothing wrong with that by the way as I have always looked at her as being the queen of comedy. This was a long awaited appearance since her initial plans of retiring in the early nineties, however to date this has been her last main role in a movie.
Although not known very well outside of Taiwan, Xi Yang has directed a very good film here. It has warm feeling over all about it, a little in the way In The Mood For Love later went on to do but not as slow as some people may have found that to be.