The Joy Luck Club
1993, Drama, 2h 18m83 Reviews 25,000+ Ratings
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The Joy Luck Club traces the generational divide, unearthing universal truths while exploring lives through the lens of a specific cultural experience. Read critic reviews
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Cast & Crew
Rose Hsu Jordan
Ying-Ying St. Clair
An Mei's Mother
Jing-Mei 'June' Woo
Lena St. Clair
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Critic Reviews for The Joy Luck Club
Both generations are fearful of revealing their true identities, yet hopeful of discovery. This is the greatest truth of The Joy Luck Club, both the film and the novel.
The film persists in telling us what to think and feel, rather than letting us have our own quiet thoughts.
This heartrending and transcendent adaptation of Amy Tan's bestseller about a quartet of Chinese American daughters and their immigrant mothers is the ultimate movie about almost everyone's first love: Mom.December 17, 2020 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
Melodramatic? Manipulative? Sure, at times, but great storytellers can get away with anything, and the trio behind this film are in that class.
While it's a great tear-jerker, it falls short of being a great movie.
One warning: the typhoon of emotions makes this an eight-handkerchief movie. Bring four for the mothers, four for the daughters when they realize what brave resolve is hidden in an old woman's stern love.
Audience Reviews for The Joy Luck Club
Jun 25, 2014"The Joy Ruck Crub"! I know you chuckled, you round-eyes, no matter how much you want to appreciate this film for being respectful in its portrayal of Chinese women. I'd be a little more appreciative if the film was a little more respectful in its portrayal of Chinese men, although, in all fairness, any kind of man from Asia can get cartoonishly crazy... particularly those from China. Okay, maybe this film's portrayal of men isn't that thin, at least not as much as my racial profiling, but then again, I'm speaking from today about a film that was released mere months before they launched the Lifetime channel, so, you know, when looking at comparisons, this film's subtlety holds up well. Well, if this film taught me anything, it's that you should keep a firm grip on your past... but still be glad that you moved to American if you're a woman from China. Oh yeah, you better believe that these women are joyous and lucky, because they got some distance from Chinese men, although they couldn't escape taking orders from a British Hong Kong-American director... who I am only addressing because I love that his name is Wayne Wang. Seriously though, if nothing else can be said about this particular Asian man, he sure made this film a good one, through all the shortcomings, that is. The film has its conventional moment, maybe not to the point of predictability, but decidedly to the point of distinctly betraying a potential for surprising uniqueness, which is peculiar, considering that the film often overexplores its potential. By that, I at least mean that ambition drives dramatic value to the point of melodrama, of which there shouldn't be much in this largely genuine drama, whose histrionic lowlights are a little hard to embrace in comparison to the whole of the drama whose genuineness is still, to one degree or another, watered down by sentimentality. Actually, sentimentality is not the only reflection of subtlety issues, because whether it be through certain heavy-handed conflicts or, of course, through the thin portrayal of the male characters, thematic weight is often thrust against your head, and takes it time to do so. Running but a minutes shy of 140 minutes, the film is simply too long, and I can't help but wonder if that's truly because of excess fat around the edges, or simply because this story is too heavily layered to explore tightly, but either way, the final product is perhaps not very predictability because it's often so aimless. I can say with confidence, however, that the aimlessness thrives on focal inconsistency, rather than pacing inconsistencies, because as an episodic look into the stories of eight - count them, "eight" - woman, the film jars from segment to segment, eventually tot he point of being grossly repetitious, perhaps even - dare I say - monotonous. I found the film to be compelling through and through, thus, my patience was firmly held more often than not, but even the film's grip on its loosened at times, largely because of the questionable structuring, and partly because of the heavy-handedness that reflect an ambition which could have ironically held the final product back as underwhelming. Of course, for those with the patience to take on a film this demanding, expect to be rewarded, as the film is predominantly endearing and tasteful, even in its score. There is not really too much to say about Rachel Portman's score, which is formulaic, despite a potentially unique fusion of Chinese-themed and western world scoring sensibilities, but still pretty solid, not simply in its individual aesthetic quality, but in its fitting in the context of the film, livening it up, and defining the resonance of its dramatic, if not its melodrama. For this, a degree of credit is due to Wayne Wang's direction, which has its heavy-handed moments, but never allows slow spells to work their way in through all of the dragging, while making tender moments count more often not with solid dramatic thoughtfulness that genuine moves. There is about as much inspiration as there is ambition to Wang's direction, and although this ambition gets the best of genuineness with sentimentality arguably more often than it should, realized inspiration is well worth waiting on. These dramatic highlights are so significant because they're worthy of being applied to a narrative so worthwhile, studying on the various struggles of women in China, and how they affected their new lives and the lives of their children in a new world, and therefore carrying themes regarding culture flaws, parenthood, and the value of womanhood and culture altogether. Amy Tan's and Ronald Bass' script explores these themes rather heavy-handedly in a lot of ways, and ultimately takes its sweet time to unravel an uneven narrative, but in regards to its characterization of the female leads who truly drive the depths of this drama, it really stands out, painting their layers thickly enough for them to serve as thorough vehicles for thematic value, yet humanizing them enough to make them compelling figures by their own right. What truly brings these characters to life is, of course, the performances, which are strong essentially across the board, with every cast member, young and older, delivering on the striking emotions and dynamite chemistry which this powerful ensemble character study would be just about nothing without. Like I said, there's a lot to try your patience, but about as much, if not more to really hold your attention and investment, and reward you for all of your patience as a moving drama. Overall, the occasional formulaic touch reflects a certain laziness, while histrionic occasions, prominent subtlety issues and a serious narrative bloating which is made all the more glaring by exhaustingly repetitious episodicity to focally uneven plotting reflect a great overambition that tries patience, firmly secured enough by lovely scoring, entertaining and often resonant direction, generally well-characterized scripting, and strong performances across the board to make "The Joy Luck Club" a thought-provoking and moving portrait on the distinctions, consistencies and love between women of struggle, pride and family. 3/5 - GoodCameron J Super Reviewer
Jan 17, 2013Four older women, all Asian immigrants living in San Francisco, meet regularly to play mahjong, eat, and tell stories. Each of these women has an adult Asian-American daughter. The film reveals the hidden pasts of the older women and their daughter's lives shaped by the clash of Chinese and American cultures as they strive to understand their family bonds and one another. Not sure what to say except that this picture moved me in a lot of ways. I noticed the family get togethers that is identical to how real family get togethers is like, how old friends visit each other once a week to play a game and tell stories from the past, how each character goes through pain and loss and how that painful chapter is passed on to their daughters in the future. The film isn't all pain in sorrow more about memory. The women portrayed in "The Joy Luck Club" find their peace and redemption and in a way, it is a personal triumph. The characters who struck me the most was between Waverly (Tamlyn Tomita) and her mother Lindo (Tsai Chin) I am not Asian nor female but as I was watching the film, I could have sworn those two actresses portrayed acurately how me and my mother would act in real life and the differences we have which made me gasp and laugh altogether. Tomita and Chin have a chemistry so uncanny, so real, and so belivable that I didn't want their scenes to end. There is more to the film and the third act really takes one's breath away imo. This is a highly recommended picture everyone should get a chance to see this. TJLC has an Asian cast (In the film, we see some Asians marry whites) but I believe everyone of all races can accept this picture and relate to it more ways then one. This is one of the two films I have seen by Wayne Wang. The other one being "The Center Of The World". A film like "The Joy Luck Club" reminds of why I go to the cinema...To learn more about people and to hopefully remember and grow to admire the same characters for future viewings.Brian R Super Reviewer
Sep 06, 2011The film boasts quite an ensemble yet the performances failed to translate onscreen. What works in its favour are Rachel Portmanâ(TM)s work on the score and the narrative from Amy Tanâ(TM)s novel. These small vignettes come from the perspectives of four mothers and their respective daughters, focusing on family ties, tradition, the hardships of an older generation, and the expectations of a new one.Chihoe H Super Reviewer
Mar 13, 2011A touching and fascinating assortment of family tales. I read the book in high school and thought it was boring, but watching it now, I realize the value of the stories and how they portray how new generations conflict with such deeply rooted traditions and cultures. It would make a good triple 'minority' feature with "Soul Food" and "Mi Familia" lol.Jared H Super Reviewer
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