Meditation Park (Canada)
February 22, 2018
Showtimes: 6:30pm & 8:25pm at Silvercity
Director: Mina Shum
Cast: Cheng Pei Pei, Tzi Ma, Sandra Oh, Zak Santiago, Liane Balaban
Runtime: 94 minutes
“[Writer/Director Mina] Shum mines her favourite theme – immigrant experience in Canada – in what seems at first to be a gentle slice of life but eventually develops a powerful emotional force.”—Susan G. Cole, NOW Magazine
Maria (Cheng Pei Pei) has spent decades of devoted marriage dutifully excusing the prejudices and vices of her husband Bing (Tzi Ma). Whether he’s insisting that she never mention their estranged son or swilling his inexplicably preferred cocktail of red wine and Coca Cola, Maria chooses to focus on the considerable sacrifices he’s made for their family.
But when she discovers another woman’s thong in his pocket (and handles the racy undergarment as if it were toxic waste), she’s no longer able to turn a blind eye to his indiscretions. Flushed out of her domestic sanctum, she engages in some unintentionally comic sleuthing that not only uncovers clues to Bing’s clandestine activities but also introduces her to new East Vancouver communities and ultimately sets her on a course to self-discovery.
Mina Shum makes an inspired return to narrative filmmaking with this richly detailed, unmistakably Vancouver story that recalls her breakout film, Double Happiness (a NOSFA feature in 1996). Viewers who came to know Cheng Pei Pei through her ferocious turn in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon will delight in watching Maria’s long-dormant inner fire being slowly stoked as she asserts herself in ways Bing had always discouraged.
Meanwhile, anyone who’s ever coughed up $20 to park in a private residence’s backyard will find hilarity in Shum’s depiction of a turf war between rival racketeers in the form of initially ornery Don McKellar (who later proves to have a more empathetic side) and a band of brightly clad Chinese-Canadian seniors. Packed with note-perfect performances—including the exceptional Sandra Oh as Maria’s conflicted daughter—Shum’s bittersweet film is emotionally rewarding and endlessly relatable.