Deb and I watched Tigertail on Netflix last night. We both enjoyed it. The movie tells the story of how anger and resentment in youth lead to a repressed, lonely life in middle age.
The story switches back and forth from the present to the past, showing how decisions made years ago have lead to family patriarch Pin-Jui being divorced, living alone and practically estranged from his daughter. In his childhood, Pin-Jui lived with grandmother on a rice farm. It is then that he meets Yuan, who becomes his best friend for several years. He meets up with Yuan again as a young adult, and it is clear that the two are very much in love. Pin-Jui hates being poor, and hates that he and his mom need to work in a dismal factory to scratch out a living. The factory foreman likes Pin-Jui, and offers his daughter’s hand in marriage and to fund their relocation to the US. Pin-Jui jumps at the chance to leave, even though he and his new wife have nothing in common and are essentially kind to each other. When Pin-Jui offers to pay for his mom to relocate to the US, she refuses because she will not know anyone in her new country. Pin-Jui works hard to support his wife, but builds a simmering resentment towards his life. He left behind his true love and the life he knew so that his mother could retire, and with that not happening, he is stuck in a life that he hates. He treats his wife with contempt and anger, and she ultimately leaves him. His daughter wants to have a relationship with him, but he is aloof and uncommunicative. Fortunately, Pin-Jui reconnects with the love of his live on Facebook. The reconnect over dinner and Yuan tells him that he needs to open up to his daughter. The movie does an effective job at showing how money and opportunity do not equate to happiness, especially when you don’t have someone you love to share them with. The scenes in New York in the ’50s were amazing in their authenticity. When Pin-Jui and his wife first enter their horrible New York apartment, I really expected either a rat or some cockroaches to scurry across the floor! The movie is an effective mix of drama, humor and romance. The soundtrack is also excellent. Solidly recommended.