Whipping Up A Little Magic In Vancouver’s Chinatown

A review of the independent film Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity starring Sandra Oh

By Roya Rastegar Jan 11, 2010

January 11, 2010


Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity
(Directed by Mina Shum)

Tween Mindy is sure that if she can get this next magical spell right, her overworked, financially strained, romantically embittered mom will have no more problems. Traipsing in and out of the local Fortune Telling and Appliance Repair Shop, her backpack stuffed with Taoist charms and potions, Mindy instead sparks some misdirected magic. All of a sudden, an elderly security guard just shy of retirement is laid off, the local butcher wins the Dragon Lotto and a young boy still can’t find his missing turtle. Coincidence or not, the three interwoven stories, spanning generations, unfold into an exploration of how to keep faith, hope and magic alive in tough times.

Writer/director Mina Shum’s charming, magical-realist third feature film (following Double Happiness, which also stars Sandra Oh) is a “love letter to Vancouver,” beautifully filmed against the industrial waterfront of the Canadian Chinatown community. Graceful, with a good dash of humor and a pinch of gravity, Shum’s deft direction and storytelling bring to life a vibrant ensemble of characters, each with their own fears and desires, and a matching color palate representing the film title’s three themes. Valerie Tian’s debut performance as Mindy is outstanding.

Roya Rastegar is an associate programmer at the Tribeca Film Festival and a doctoral candidate at the University of California at Santa Cruz.