Saturday, June 17, 11:00am, Roxie Theatre
Small Talk (Ri Chang Dui Hua) (日常對話) is a documentary made by Hui-Chen HUANG (黃惠偵) about her mother Anu (pictured). Most of the film is Hui-Chen asking Anu about her childhood, her marriage, and her relationships, with occasional interviews of family and friends. Anu knew from an early age that she is a lesbian, but familial and other social pressures pushed her into a marriage with a gambler who was also an abusive, violent alcoholic; they eventually had two children, Hui-Chen and her younger sister. Although Hui-Chen and Anu have a distant, sometimes frosty relationship, they still live under the same roof, along with Hui-Chen’s young daughter. The bulk of the film is Hui-Chen and Anu sitting at opposite ends of the dinner table, mostly looking anywhere but at each other. Several times, Anu says, “I don’t want to talk about it” or “Stop filming,” but the camera rolls on and on, giving the whole exercise an intrusive feel, crossing more than once into non-consensual. Some of the interviews with family and friends are a welcome break, warmhearted and even funny, but most of the film feels like a court-ordered therapy session Anu only grudgingly attends. We see her smile only three times in an hour and a half of footage. Her story is interesting, but not willingly told. For that reason, I cannot recommend this film. NOT RECOMMENDED.