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April 11, 2011 | by  | in Film | [ssba]

My Wedding and Other Secrets

In 2005, New Zealand-born Chinese director Roseanne Liang was the hit at the New Zealand Documentary Festival with her autobiographic piece, Banana in a Nutshell. The doco followed her own relationship with a white New Zealander and their journey to gain her family’s acceptance. She’s recycled this concept to create My Wedding and Other Secrets, a rather more dramatic film about the making of the original documentary.

Emily and James fall in love at fencing club but their love – and marriage – must be kept a secret from her traditional parents. The film, therefore, pretty much follows a standard romantic comedy setup but adds its own New Zealand twist. Instead of the suave and mysterious male lead playing opposite his emotionally complicated love interest, we get a down-to-earth and distinctly Kiwi couple who really seem to love each other. The film explores the idea of cross cultural relationships in a multicultural society, a concept that could have taken itself too seriously far too easily, in a thoughtful way while filling the film with the kind of laid-back humour that makes you feel right at home.

As a New Zealander – and one who happens to be learning Mandarin Chinese – I felt I had a duty to like this film; to come out of the cinema after the final credits roll talking about the strong performances, great script and interesting social commentary provided by Liang. And to be fair, these elements exist. In the end, however, I could not escape the feeling that I was being manipulated, or at least that Liang was manipulating her culture, family and boyfriend so that they would work well as 2D 20 foot versions of themselves for your viewing pleasure. The result was a film that on the surface seems like a winner but never quite seemed right.


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