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The Disappearance of Mrs. Wu (Film Review)

2 min read

The Disappearance of Mrs. Wu has its heart in the right place with its story. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t tell it in an effective way, leaving the emotion missing as much as Mrs. Wu.

The title speaks for itself. Mrs. Lily Wu (Lisa Lu) is coming to the end of her life. So, she wants to revisit a particular spot that has personal meaning for her. Her daughter, Mary (Michelle Krusiec) doesn’t agree – she wants her to stay at the nursing home. So, Lily hatches a plan: her granddaughter, Emma (Rochelle Ying), Emma’s best friend Karen (Tiffany Wu) and Lily’s carer and friend Charlotte (Joely Fisher) break into the nursing home to take Lily on one final road trip.

On paper, this sounds like classic weepy material. And in a way, it is exactly that – there are a huge number of reveals designed to tug on the heartstrings. The film just doesn’t have the desired impact because of the execution.

Lisa Lu brings a bit of class to an awkward-feeling movie – Lisa Lu in The Disappearance of Mrs. Wu

While all my respect goes to the actors involved, the performances come across as a little stilted. Maybe it’s the dialogue, which reads awkwardly – characters tend to just signpost what’s happening in any given moment, rather than speaking humanely about sensitive topics. But the production feels rushed, with shots and sequences capturing what feel like rehearsals in real-time.

Again, I don’t want to slam the brakes on anyone wanting to check this out. There’s a genuinely heartfelt exchange toward the end akin to Turning Red. Lisa Lu also brings maturity to proceedings – she’s this film’s Julie Andrews. The Disappearance of Mrs. Wu just lacks a polished edge. It feels like director Anna Chi wanted to touch on a ton of themes and ended up trying to solve Rubik’s Cube without the subtle touch this needed.

Ultimately, it’s a miss for me.

The Disappearance of Mrs. Wu is available on Video-on-Demand from March 21.