I’m not sure why, but the Canadian Asian diaspora seems to be creating one cool film or series after the other.
After I had binged my way through Kim’s Convenience – a total must-see for anyone interested in the Korean immigrant experience and some lovely WWAM action – the next masterpiece to emerge from Toronto is Turning Red.
This film is truly shattering glass ceilings. It’s Chinese-Canadian animator Domee Shi’s first feature-length film. And believe it or not, she is the first woman to solo-direct a feature film in Pixar’s 36-year history.
What’s more, as unbelievable as it is in this day and age, it’s the first Pixar Film to centre a female character since Brave (2012). Really?! There were no interesting “women stories” to tell in a bloody decade. Bit of a disgrace if you ask me…
Wonderfully, the female direction shows. Turning Red explores some interesting themes that we rarely see on the big screen to this day – mother-daughter relationships that are not just one-dimensional, fangirling about boybands from the turn of the millennium and periods without shame – WOW!
In terms of the cast, I love the fact that Sandra Oh plays the mum. Although it took me a while to wrap my mind around the fact that SANDRA OH PLAYS THE MUM?! Shouldn’t she be playing 25-year-old medical geniuses? How is she old enough to voice a character who has to be in their late forties or early fifties? Was she not a resident at Seattle Grace Hospital like yesterday?! God, I feel old.
But to get back to the fangirling going on. The boyband so clearly alludes to the classic 90s set-up, be it Backstreet Boys or ‘N SYNC (we know, who’s really better, though, don’t we? 😜 ). Except that 4Town is actually racially diverse, rather than just 5 white guys. And I swear, their song sounds like something lifted straight out of a BSB album. I was convinced I had heard it before 😹 Don’t believe me? Just check it out for yourself!
Anyway, the movie clearly focuses on the women in the family and their transformation into a red panda. Okay, I’ll be honest – I can be a bit thick when it comes to deciphering allegories…I did not entirely realise the “red panda” was a metaphor for puberty and periods…I mean, I understood that’s what the film was about, but not the “red panda” connection, if you know what I mean. But it does seem so obvious once I read this…especially considering there is no actual mythology in China about red pandas. Dear lord, I can be slow, sometimes.
So, this movie has me in a bit of a conundrum. My feminist side loves the whole storyline and thinks this is a fabulous piece of work that fits so well in the Zeitgeist. But as a Where’s Wang columnist, I have to say that there is no crazy amount of Asian male representation going on. The dad is very cute, calm and supportive, which I loved, but you could have pretty much left him out of the movie for all it is worth. This is fair enough considering how much airtime men get versus women, especially when it comes to intersectional issues.
In the end, even though it falls a little short on the Wanginess, I still highly recommend Turning Red. It’s just charming and Millenials will love the boyband, I’m sure. Wait a minute, did we just get our first entirely virtual boyband? Technology these days, ey?
Anyways, enjoy the movie! Go on, enjoy it NOW!