#VIWFF2020 Blog 4: “Heavy Craving” Film Review

#VIWFF2020 Blog 4: “Heavy Craving” Film Review

Written by: Katrina Mugume

Hsieh Pei-Ju’s Heavy Craving is a heartwarming comedy-drama that tackles a long-contested topic with hard facts and immense empathy. Ying-Juan is a 30-year-old woman who dreams of being a professional chef. As that is yet to be actualized, she cooks passionately for the children of her mother’s daycare center. Routinely teased about her weight by the children who throw eggs at her, paired with her mother’s backhanded comments and men who disregard her, she manages to remain unbothered and shrugs their comments away. That is until her mother Shu-fen, gifts her an invitation to attend the popular “Action, Weight and Body Wellness” course for her 30th birthday, urging her to lose weight or lose her privilege to direct the centre’s meal plan. 

“In a refreshingly nuanced way, this film speaks to a hunger for acceptance, one that can only be fed with the approval of others.”

Her time in the program seems promising and she even manages to make a few friends; Wu, the food courier who secretly struggles with his body image and Xiao-yu, a young student of her mother’s daycare who secretly likes to wear girls clothes. The oddball group sees each other’s pain and supports the other needs, often finding laughter in the midst of strange situations. All is well until a series of painful truths, embarrassing experiences, and even self-destruction brings Ying-Juan to a soulless point of rock-bottom. It is here that she will have to fight her own demons and set herself free. 

Chang Hao-Jan’s cinematography builds a world of sharp images with bright and playful colours that perfectly captures the hopefulness and tenacity of Ying-Juan’s journey, but also juxtaposes the abasement that people like her experience every day. 

In a refreshingly nuanced way, this film speaks to a hunger for acceptance, one that can only be fed with the approval of others. Hsieh Pei-Ju addresses this injustice from a feminist lens; demanding value for character over appearance, showing what we stand to lose when we choose the latter.

-Katrina Mugume

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