Published Jan 01, 2006Long Life, Happiness & Prosperity weaves three interconnected stories set in Vancouver's Chinese community into a magical and heart-warming film. Twelve-year-old Mindy (Valerie Tian) is bent on fixing her overworked mother's (Sandra Oh) life by using Taoist spells, but her amateur magical efforts inevitably misfire, instead wreaking havoc on the lives of unsuspecting community members. This spell-casting is the connecting thread between the film's separate stories referred to in the film's title. Long Life is the story of an older security guard named Shuck (Chang Tseng) who loses his job and tries to hide the shame from his wife (Tsai Chin). Happiness chronicles Mindy's efforts to help her mother by using magic to make her win the lottery and fall in love with her charming co-worker Alvin (Russell Yuen). Prosperity follows a local butcher (Ric Young) caught in intergenerational conflicts, simultaneously trying to make amends with his estranged father and threatening to repeat the familial pattern with his own son, who wants to eschew the butcher trade in favour of becoming a monk.
For its emphasis on the magical coincidences of the world, this film is reminiscent of Amelie, although Mindy's meddling is much more comically hapless and unwitting than the title character's in the French film. Director and co-writer Mina Shum (Double Happiness) lovingly crafts these three truthfully bittersweet tales, and endows each with lightness and humour enough to make them thoroughly engaging. The excellent ensemble cast makes each and every one of their characters beautifully and frustratingly human, and therefore infinitely familiar.