Dir: Fruit Chan, 2004, Hong Kong (91 min)
Ling Bai, Miriam Yeung Chin Wah, Tony Leung Ka Fai
Aunt Mei may look like a foxy 20-something, with luminous skin and a fabulously trashy wardrobe, but it’s more than anti-aging creams that defy her sexagenarian status. There’s something in those dumplings.
Her famous dish leads Mrs Li, a faded soap star, to visit Mei for a taste of such rejuvenating powers. Desperate to retain her philandering husband, she begs Mei to up their potency and discovers there’s a high price to pay for a dewy complexion.
Mei remains cheery and mysterious about what exactly those tasty parcels contain, but when it becomes clear that the source lies in utero the film delights in a visceral horror that is certainly not for the squeamish or recently pregnant.
Dumplings is simultaneously a witty fable on the perils of vanity and a swoon-inducing paean to beauty, with master cinematographer Christopher Doyle wringing every drop of pleasure from each frame. Kate Taylor