Chinese Takeaway

Chinese Takeaway

Director: Sebastián Borensztein

Chinese Takeaway opens with a Chinese man preparing to propose to his lover on a boat. This proposal is cut short when a cow falls from the sky and kills her.

After seeing Jun (Huang Sheng Huang) thrown out of a taxi while watching aeroplanes, hardware shop owner Roberto (Ricardo Darin) reluctantly acknowledges that he should help the guy out. He tries and gives up. The weather intervenes, and Roberto tries to help out again. Conscience [HUH??]. Though the two do not share a common language, they get on with trying to find Jun’s uncle via an outdated address tattooed to Jun’s arm.

Roberto leads a boring life: counting packs of 350 screws, trawling piles of newspapers for absurd tales of death, and turning off his light at exactly 11pm each night. The arrival of Jun doesn’t actually interfere too much with these daily routines, although it does spice up the rest of his mundane life. Jun gets Roberto head banging with a police officer and exploring the city. He also clears up the mess in Roberto’s house, which symbolises the two men’s confused interaction.

A Chinese takeaway delivery boy, the inspiration behind the title of the film, helps to clear up some of this mess by playing translator. Roberto asserts that “life doesn’t have meaning” and justifies this bleak outlook with the newspaper stories that he has collected over time. One of the examples he gives involves thieves stealing cows by loading them into an aeroplane. Though the farmers do not catch them, they do manage to shoot holes into the aeroplane’s ramp which then drops and provides an exit for the cows. At this point the relevance of the film’s opening scenes is revealed. Jun disagrees with Roberto, arguing that everything in life has meaning.

– Sam Allen
This article first appeared in Issue 13, 2012.
Posted 7:40pm Sunday 27th May 2012 by Sam Allen.