The lives of three Chinese women in New York City interconnect in this character study from first time writer-director Ximan Li.
Amy Chen was a one-time prominent food editor. That is, until a breakup had led her to develop an eating disorder where the slightest bite of food will make her sick. To make matters worse, she is under constant pressure by her sick mother to find someone to marry. When she is asked to join a show as a publicity stunt for a popular Chinese actress at a pho restaurant, she is joined by her colleague Peter, who she slowly begins to bond with and finds herself gaining her appetite back.
The actress is question is Angel Li, who has just scored a major lead role in a new film. However, her fame is not compared to life at home. Married to a rich American businessman, she feels like the love she once had in the marriage is gone and as a result, she engages in an affair with a young writer, David. Meanwhile, Nina, who works in the restaurant, finds herself at a crossroads as she works as an escort to raise money for her father’s medical expenses. However, her boyfriend Ian, who cares about her, wants to help Nina have a better life and she wants to break from her family’s iron grip. A pregnancy test is bound to change one of these three’s lives forever.
The topic of Asian-Americans attempting to mesh both family traditions and living a modern life in America is one that has been represented very well. While Crazy Rich Asians is perhaps the biggest film to show this genre of film, it is mainly indie cinema that represents Asian-Americans in a positive light despite the circumstances of the films themselves in terms of the story. Wayne Wang’s Dim Sum, Chris Chan Lee’s Yellow, and Justin Lin’s Better Luck Tomorrow are some prime examples of Asian-American life.
For first time writer-director Ximan Li, this is a well-made character study about the lives of three women whose stories are interconnected, and a pregnancy test looks to be the McGuffin of the film. The stories of the lead characters are quite interesting themselves. Amy Chang’s Amy brings a sense of mystery as she deals with an eating disorder after losing the man she loves. Playing her mother is the legendary Cheng Pei-Pei, who despite being ill, puts Amy under pressure to marry and slowly, she does begin a relationship with Peter, played by Jae Shin.
The second act of the story focuses on Angel, played by Yi Liu. Angel’s connection comes in the fact that she worked with Amy during the final moments of the first act. Angel is in a relationship with young writer David, played by Mortal Kombat’s Ludi Lin. However, she is married to an American businessman, played by Erik Lochtefeld, who doesn’t really show any emotion towards her. When she learns David is having meetings at the local karaoke club, naturally Angel isn’t happy but only because she does feel a sense of love for David. That is, until a series of events begin to occur, which includes David informing Angel he will be returning to China soon. What should be noted here is that Ludi Lin speaks all of his dialogue in Mandarin even though he does speak perfect English as seen in Power Rangers, Aquaman, and Mortal Kombat. Smart move on Ximan Li’s part as it brings more of a feel to the film.
The third story is that of Nina Wong, played by Wu Assassins co-star Celia Au. Nina’s story is perhaps the most realistic in terms of what we may expect in terms of adjusting to life in the City That Never Sleeps. We learn that Nina has been working as an escort at the karaoke club where David has his business meetings and it is because she is forced into a situation that she was brought to America by her parents and she is forced to take care of her dad’s medical bills while her mother treats son Kevin like a king, not knowing he actually is not what he seems. Roger Yeh’s Ian is the one person who actually cares about Nina, not judging her and even has plans for the two to escape the insane life and perhaps, help Nina get out of the tight family grip. It is after the crux of Nina’s story that we see how these three tales interconnect as certain scenes are replayed from different angles.
In a New York Minute is quite a look at the lives of three different women and how eventually they find themselves connected. All stories share a similar theme…would you want to have love or have freedom? In the words of one character: why not both?
WFG RATING: A-
Gravitas Ventures presents an In a New York Minute production. Director: Ximan Li. Producer: Wayne Lin. Writers: Ximan Li and Yilei Zhou. Cinematography: Mego Lin. Editing: David Wen.
Cast: Amy Chang, Yi Liu, Celia Au, Ludi Lin, Jae Shin, Roger Yeh, Erik Lochtefeld, Mark Delabarre, Cheng Pei-Pei, Yan Xi, Fenton Li, Nic Tom, Luna Tieu.
The film will be released on Digital on May 3, 2022.