The Wedding Banquet (喜宴)1993
Directed by Ang Lee
The Wedding Banquet (Chinese: 喜宴; pinyin: Xǐyàn; Wade–Giles: Hsi yen) is a 1993 film about a gay Taiwanese immigrant man who marries a mainland Chinese woman to placate his parents and get her a green card. His plan backfires when his parents arrive in the United States to plan his wedding banquet.
The film was directed by Ang Lee and stars Winston Chao, May Chin, Ah Lei Gua, Sihung Lung, and Mitchell Lichtenstein. The Wedding Banquet is the first of three movies that Ang Lee would make about gay characters; the second is Brokeback Mountain and the third being Taking Woodstock. The film is a co-production between Taiwan and the United States.
Wai-Tung Gao and Simon are a happy gay couple living in Manhattan. Wai-Tung is in his late 20s, so his Taiwanese parents are eager to see him get married and have a child. The early part of the film is madcap comedy. When Wai-Tung's parents hire a dating service, he and Simon stall for time by inventing impossible demands. Chinese opera singers are always men, so they demand an opera singer and add that she must be very tall, must have two PhD's and should speak five languages. The service actually locates a 1.75 m (5'9") Chinese woman who sings Western opera, speaks five languages and has a single PhD. She is very gracious when Wai-Tung explains his dilemma, as she, too, is hiding a relationship (with a Caucasian man). At Simon's insistence, Wai-Tung decides to get married to one of his tenants, Wei-Wei, a penniless artist from mainland China in need of a green card. Besides helping out Wei-Wei, Simon and Wai-Tung hope that this will placate Wai-Tung's parents.
Mr. and Mrs. Gao decide to fly in from Taiwan, bringing US$30,000 to hold a magnificent wedding ceremony for their son. Wai-Tung dares not tell his parents the truth, because his father has just recovered from a stroke; they go through with the wedding. However, the heartbreak his mother experiences at the courthouse wedding prepares the story for a shift to drama. The only way to atone for the disgraceful wedding is a magnificent wedding banquet. After the banquet, Wei-Wei seduces the drunken Wai-Tung, and becomes pregnant. Simon is extremely upset when he finds out, and his relationship with Wai-Tung begins to deteriorate.
In a moment of anger, after a fight with both Simon and Wei-Wei, Wai-Tung admits the truth to his mother. She is shocked and insists that he not tell his father. The perceptive Mr. Gao sees more than he is letting on; he secretly tells Simon that he knows about their relationship, and, appreciating the considerable sacrifices he made for his biological son, takes Simon as his son as well. Simon accepts the Hongbao from Wai-Tung's father, a symbolic admission of their relationship, but Mr. Gao makes him promise not to tell anyone; without everyone trying to lie to him, he points out, he'd never have gotten a grandchild.
After making an appointment to have an abortion, Wei-Wei decides to keep the baby, and asks Simon to stay together with Wai-Tung and be the baby's other father. In the final parting scene, as Wai-Tung's parents prepare to fly home, Mrs. Gao has clearly forged an emotional bond to daughter-in-law Wei-Wei. Mr. Gao accepts Simon and warmly shakes his hand. In the end, both derive some happiness from the situation, and they walk off to board the aircraft, leaving the unconventional family to sort itself out.