Dumplings (18) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

If 'Hard Candy' fails to satisfy your sweet tooth for misanthropy then you might care to sample this endurance-test horror from Hong Kong. Fruit Chan's innocent-sounding film centres upon ageing former actress Qing (Miriam Yeung), who is desperate to win back her philandering husband. Knowing too well that "men love chicks in their twenties", she pays a visit to mainland chef Mei (Bai Ling), whose steamed dumplings allegedly remove wrinkles and restore youth. Only by slow degrees do we learn the secret ingredient of these magical delicacies, which will only help to reinforce the stereotype of Chinese cuisine. And you thought eating dogs was bad...

As a satire on the timeless quest for youth and beauty, Dumplings makes for pretty strong meat, though it could also be seen as a savage riposte to those drippy movies - Chocolat, Mistress of Spices et al - in which various sweetmeats are coyly invested with life-enhancing properties. The secret of Dumplings proves to be the very opposite of life-enhancing, and is much the better for it.

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