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OPENS AUGUST 11
The cultural and generational conflicts of Chinese immigrant families in North America have inspired films as idiosyncratic as Chan Is Missing and as mainstream as The Joy Luck Club, and writer/director Mina Shum’s semi-autobiographical first feature doesn’t really have anything to add. Once the amateurishness of some of the performances is accepted, though, this tale of Chinese- Canadian fledgling actress Jade (Sandra Oh) and her uncomprehending parents (Stephen Chang and Alannah Ong) is reasonably ingratiating. Jade still lives at home, and is dedicated to appearing to be the daughter required by her parents. Still, she has no interest in the young Chinese men her parents insist she date, and instead begins a surreptitious and inexplicably torrid relationship with a nerdy white grad student (Callum Rennie). Shum doesn’t treat these culture-clash issues with any depth, riding them instead in the playful spirit of the film’s surf/spaghetti- western score (by Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet). Jade alternates rehearsing the lines of Joan of Arc with singing a few verses of “Kung Fu Fighting,” and seems generally as amused as she is tormented by her hidebound family. Happiness would have benefited from a few fresh insights, but, failing that, the film takes an engaging, appropriately eclectic tone. At the Key Theater, 1222 Wisconsin Ave. NW. (202) 333-5100. (Mark Jenkins)