My Wedding and Other Secrets

Directed by Roseanne Liang. (3.5/5).
Chinese New Zealander Emily (Michelle Ang) is a disappointment to her family. Ignoring her parents’ ambitions for her career as a doctor, she's enrolled herself in film-making school. Things get really bad when she falls for the man of her dreams, James (Matt Whelan) – an awkward RPG-player – who is decidedly un-Chinese.

The unfolding relationship is endearingly geeky. It’s also food-centric. In a lot of Emily and James’ romantic scenes they are eating, sharing ‘mixed bag’ (geddit?) lollies and bubble tea. Their cultural differences, too, are explored through food. Emily is incredulous at James’ obsession with cereal. He, meanwhile, refuses to eat Chinese delicacies such as chicken feet, which is more disrespectful than he realises, causing the couple’s first fight.

When Emily learns having a husband will increase her student allowance, the two secretly marry. But Emily still can't work up the courage to even admit his existence to her parents, pushing James’ love to its limits.  Eventually, though, the secret has to come out.

The film has a strong New Zealand flavour. The kitsch décor of James’ flat, scarfie touches like the cheapo student wedding in the park, and James’ grey bum-pants all make you feel like you’re watching something that could have taken place down the road.

The portrayal of Chinese culture is equally honest. The film is based on Liang’s own life, and the Chinese family dynamic is brought to life particularly well. The threat of disownment looms for Emily when her parents meet James. It’s hard for an outsider to the culture to sympathise with the parents' perspective. Emily’s love for them, though, helps her, and us, to understand them in the light of their foreign, complex culture.

In fact, the family relationships are more intriguing than Emily and James’ own, which is sweet but bland, a lot like eating lollies and drinking bubble tea. Their formulaic love story is redeemed, though, by the skill and chemistry of the two leads. Ultimately, what sets My Wedding and Other Secrets apart from other soulless rom-coms is its sincerity. As well as a soul, it has a quirky, oddball personality that it’s hard not to warm to. 

Posted 3:45am Tuesday 5th April 2011 by Nicole Muriel.