VIFF 2017: East Vancouver–set Meditation Park brings the audience to its feet


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      Mina Shum’s deeply felt comedy-drama brought the house down at a bouyant, sold-out gala screening on VIFF’s opening night (September 28). Some flaws aside, it’ll be a crowdpleaser wherever it travels, this tale of a diffident Chinese wife and mother—played with timorous, almost child-like charm by septugenarian wuxia legend Cheng Pei Pei—who discovers that just-turned-65 hubby (she calls him “old man”) is having an affair.

      He’s by turns rascally, vulnerable, and brutally patriarchal, which gives Arrival’s Tzi Mah a lot to sink his teeth into, and he pulls it off with a real brio that isn’t always supported by the script. But this is Pei Pei’s film, and it’s her journey from house mouse to emancipated older lady that got the VIFF audience on its feet. Certainly no less rousing: this love-letter to Hastings Sunrise, the best old neighbourhood in the city, complete with backyard-parking grannies (“po-pos”) and family block parties in crane-festooned New Brighton Park, goes straight to what Vancouver should be fighting to protect.