We spent the last night watching The Joy Luck Club for the first time, over a roasted red pepper loaf and some St. Andre brie. One thing I must admire is how faithful the film is to Amy Tan’s book – the voiceovers are virtually taken ad verbatim.
The Joy Luck Club always brings an emotional response from me, because I see myself and my own mother inside the characters. We suffer from not only a generational gap but a cultural one; my parents were immigrants to Canada, trading a life of rags to one of riches. Or, with the case of my mom, a life of riches to rags to riches, which explains her chronic thriftiness.
We have an amical relationship, but hardly an close one. As kids, my sister and I were pushed, even berated, to only tolerate the very best from ourselves and our lives. Sometimes I felt more like an acolyte than a next of kin.
And so I can relate to the sinking sensation the main protoganist Jing-Mei feels: that nothing I do can ever be “best quality”, can never be good enough. There is a lot about my mother’s past I don’t know and she refuses to talk about. I don’t understand them, and they don’t understand me.
She worries about me, I know this. She can only show it by giving me giant melons from her garden. And I, not knowing what to do with it, end up mostly throwing it away.