Chinese-Canadian Eve Eng was born in 1966, in the year of the fire horse. In Chinese culture, fire horse children are notorious for being troublesome. In 1975, nine year old Eve is looking ...
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Chinese-Canadian Eve Eng was born in 1966, in the year of the fire horse. In Chinese culture, fire horse children are notorious for being troublesome. In 1975, nine year old Eve is looking for some meaning for her life, especially after her mother, May-Lin Eng, miscarries, and her paternal grandmother passes away, the latter event particularly concerning not so much for the event itself but the circumstances leading to the death. The Engs follow traditional Buddhist philosophy, primarily as a cultural tradition. While her husband Frank Eng is away in China dealing with his mother's burial, May-Lin doesn't stop their eldest daughter, Karena Eng, from pursuing knowledge of and eventual faith in Christianity, most specifically Catholicism. May-Lin sees it as a cushion for ensuring a good life and good after-life, as much of Christian teaching follows that of Buddhism anyway. Eve follows in her sister's footsteps. While Karena becomes a devout Catholic to the expense of her Buddhist ... Written by
A fond, gentle film that takes a while to get going
Julia Kwan's "Eve & the Fire Horse" is a sweet, gentle film in which a 9-year-old girl, Eve (Phoebe Kut), recalls her childhood when her sister, Karena (Hollie Lo), introduces her to Catholicism.
It's a typical coming-of-age film with an Asian bent, nonetheless. It's buoyed by two fine performances by Kut and Lo. There's nothing unexpected or unpredictable about it, but it delves into a culture that is alien to most Americans. And it deals very well with the clash of cultures - or, in this case, religions - and the confusion that arises as these young kids try to deal with life.
Writer-director Kwan takes her time to set up her story and then unravel it. We get to know these characters and appreciate their motivations. The humor is nothing outrageous; this is the sort of film that brings a smile to one's face rather than, say, a loud guffaw or two.
What works in the film is the relationship between the two sisters. From the opening scene of them on the wall, we believe these two are not only related, but very close.
There are some fine supporting performances. Vivian Wu is brilliantly understated as the children's mother, and Chit Chan Man Lester brings the right amount of pathos and humor to his role as their father.
One of the film's failings is a rather obvious narration. I'm not averse to voice-over narrations in films such as this. But many of the moments in the narration could have been shown and not told.
"Eve & the Fire Horse" is a pleasant film, one that could've been better, but works nonetheless. Its charm comes from its two young actors who seem so natural that we're drawn into their colorful worlds and imagination. It says a lot about families; it also says a lot about religion. I'm not sure if Kwan endorses proselytizing, but the film does seem to make a statement about the commonality among religions. And that's certainly not a bad thing. It's a sweet, tender film that makes for a nice afternoon at the movies.
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