Meditation Park (Mina Shum, 2017): Canada

Reviewed by Brianna Franklin. Viewed at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2018.

In her fifth feature film, Canadian director Mina Shum (Double Happiness, Long Life, Happiness, and Prosperity), explores the life of an older immigrant woman. Played by Pei-Pei Cheng (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Lilting), Maria is a woman trying to figure out who she is in a world she doesn’t really know, despite having lived in North America for over thirty years. After Maria finds a pair of orange, lacy underwear in the pocket of her husband’s pants, she goes on what could be called a soul-searching mission. While this film is far from perfect, it is absolutely a stepping stone for films to come.

Meditation Park hosts a powerhouse cast including the forceful Tzi Ma (The Ladykillers, The Quiet American) as Maria’s husband, Bing, Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy, Sideways) as their daughter Ava, and Don McKellar (Blindness, The Red Violin) as their neighbor, Gabriel.

The film begins with Bing’s 65th birthday, which he celebrates with Maria, Ava, and her family. After everyone leaves, Bing is called away to work. He comes home drunk, and the next morning is when Maria finds the underwear. After realizing what is happening, Maria goes on a mission to not only find her husband’s mistress, but create a life of her own.

Meditation Park is a genuinely entertaining film. Shum does a beautiful job of blending immigrant stories of different times, and getting to the root of what it means to be Chinese woman, living elsewhere. The use of color helps the audience feel what the characters are feeling, without detracting from the story or humor in the film. The color orange makes an appearance multiple times. It symbolizes change and strong emotion throughout the film.

Overall, Meditation Park is a funny, heart-warming film that still manages to touch on problems within the female Chinese immigrant experience. Definitely worth seeing.


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