In David Au’s Eat With Me, a mother learns to accept her estranged son’s sexual orientation through a journey that involves dumplings, street tacos, and ecstasy pills. This is the Hong-kong born director’s first feature film, which was inspired by his short Fresh like Strawberries. In this comedy, we explore the lives of a mother and son, who seem to have nothing in common besides shared blood and a love for Chinese food. Played by the talented Sharon Omi, Emma is a mother who feels unfulfilled in her cordial but dull marriage. The only excitement Emma allows into her life is the hot sauce she adds to her meals. On the other hand, her son Elliot, who is played by Teddy Chen Culver, relishes in novelty yet feels uneasy about finding a committed partner.
When Emma arrives at Elliot’s failing Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles, the two reunite and live together. But even in close quarters, they still fail to understand each other. The generational gap further contributes to Emma’s struggle to accept her son as an LGBT individual. Stagnant pauses in the film’s dialogue construct awkwardness during Elliot and Emma’s interactions. Fortunately, these lukewarm scenes later transform into loving, warm family moments as the ice in this mother-son relationship thaws.
A few dance classes led by the free-wheeling neighbor Maureen, played by Nicole Sullivan, helps Emma loosen up. Elliot also opens up more to his mother when he needs her culinary expertise to save his business. Scenes with sizzling Chinese pancakes, ice cream bars, and Sriracha spice up the film. In addition, LGBT activist and actor George Takei’s short cameo makes this film even more charming.
Director Au says, “Despite our differences in race, sexuality, or age, we are all pretty much going through the same thing. We have similar problems in life, such as with family and relationships.”