November 3, 2022
by Carla Hay
Directed by Sunny Chan
Cantonese with subtitles
Culture Representation: Taking place in Hong Kong, the comedy/drama film “Table for Six” features an all-Asian cast of characters representing the working-class and middle-class.
Culture Clash: A photographer has a very awkward dinner with his two younger brothers and their girlfriends when he finds out that his middle brother’s new girlfriend is a woman he used to date, and he hasn’t completely gotten over their breakup.
Culture Audience: “Table for Six” will appeal primarily to fans of romantic comedy/dramas that look like they could be stage plays, but the movie tends to try too hard with its slapstick comedy and mushy dramatics.
“Table for Six” awkwardly mixes slapstick comedy and sentimental drama with uneven acting. It’s a trite movie where people get angry and uncomfortable about romantic relationships. The movie’s central conflict eventually becomes very stale and tiresome in a film that did not need to drag out for nearly two hours.
Written and directed by Sunny Chan, “Table for Six” (which takes place in Hong Kong) starts out as a jumbled mess as it introduces the six characters who are at the center of the story.
- Steve Chan (played by Dayo Wong), a middle-aged photographer who used to be famous, is the eldest of three bachelor brothers. He lives in an apartment that used to be a barbeque pork factory, which he inherited from his deceased parents.
- Bernard Chan (played by Louis Cheung, also known as Louis Cheong Kai Chung) is Steve’s stepbrother, who is in his early 40s. Bernard’s biological mother was married to Steve’s biological father.
- Lung Chan (played by Chan Charm Man, also known as Peter Chan Charm Man), an aspiring e-sports star in his 30s, is the younger half-brother of Steve and Bernard. Lung and Steve have the same biological father. Lung and Bernard have the same biological mother.
- Monica (played by Stephy Tang), a marketing executive, is Steve’s ex-girlfriend and is now Bernard’s girlfriend.
- Josephine (played by Ivana Wong), an aspiring chef, is Lung’s girlfriend of 12 years, and she has grown frustrated that he hasn’t proposed marriage to her yet.
- Meow Ah (played by Lin Min-Chen), originally from Taiwan, is a model who is a cat enthusiast (she likes to dress in cat-decorated clothes and costumes), who is hired by Lung to be a mascot, and she becomes Steve’s casual girlfriend.
With a few exceptions, “Table for Six” takes place mostly in Steve’s apartment, where he has a home photography studio. Steve prides himself on being an excellent cook who likes to prepare the meals when he has dinner parties. The main conflict in the movie happens at one of these dinner parties.
Before that fateful dinner party happens, “Table for Six” has a flurry of activity that is scrambled together with a lot of sniping back and forth between Lung and Josephine. Lung wants to get rich from e-sports, but so far, he’s basically unemployed and nearly financially broke. “My e-sports team is headed for glory,” he tells Steve. “All we need is funding.”
Josephine is upset because Lung doesn’t have a steady income, which means they can’t really afford to get married. She nags him about it and keeps hinting that she’ll break up with him if he doesn’t find a steady job and propose marriage to her. Lung gets angry because he thinks Josephine doesn’t have enough faith and patience.
Meanwhile, Lung sees that Meow is a popular influencer on social media, so he comes up with the idea to hire her to be the mascot for his e-sports team. He asks Meow to come to Steve’s place for a photo shoot. During this photo shoot, where Meow poses with a kitchen container (which doesn’t make sense if she’s supposed to be an e-sports mascot), she flirts with Steve because she’s had a crush on him since she was a child.
Steve then remembers fan mail that Meow wrote to him years ago, when she signed the letters as Kitty Cat. It’s obvious that Meow wants to date Steve, but he tells her up front that he’s not ready to be in a relationship. That’s because Steve is still heartbroken over the end of his relationship with Monica, whom he considers to be the love of his life. One of the few scenes that takes place outside the apartment shows that Monica is a hard-driving employee who yells at her co-workers if things aren’t up to her standards.
One evening, Steve has a small dinner party with Bernard, Lung and Josephine as guests. But an uninvited guest shows up: Monica. And she drops some bombshell news. She is Bernard’s girlfriend. Monica and Bernard have been dating each other for an unspecified period of time. It’s the first time that Steve finds out about this relationship.
Naturally, Steve is upset, but then he pretends that’s he’s okay with Monica and Bernard dating each other. (Deep down, Steve really isn’t okay with it.) Bernard tells Steve that he’s sorry that he didn’t tell Steve earlier about being in a relationship with Monica. Steve appears to forgive Bernard, but during the course of the movie, Steve’s lingering romantic feelings for Monica, as well as Steve’s resentment toward Bernard, eventually come to the surface.
Because of Lung’s financial problems, Steve generously lets Lung and Josephine move in with him, on the condition that they work for Steve as his assistants. He’s in for a shock when he finds out that Josephine is a huge collector of Hong Kong decorations and trinkets, which she brings with her when she and Lung move into the already cramped apartment. Steve’s surprise about Josephine’s collection is supposed to be a funny sight gag in the movie, but the joke just falls flat.
Most of “Table for Six” is about the love triangle between Steve, Monica and Bernard. Steve has been pining for Monica, and he wants to win her back. Monica seems to show hints that she’s interested in Bernard and Steve. Up until a certain point, Monica keeps people guessing about which brother she will choose. Meanwhile, Lung and Josephine continue to bicker about where their own relationship is headed. As for Meow, she shows up once in a while like a fangirl who wants any type of attention from Steve, even though she eventually finds out that he’s still got feelings for Monica.
All of these love entanglements could have been made into a well-written comedy/drama with clever dialogue, but the movie’s scenes are either very mediocre or they try too hard to have over-the-top physical comedy. There’s a very unrealistic sequence where, during a very petty argument, everyone in the room suddenly starts smashing things. It only seems to be in the movie for some slapstick comedy that looks very ill-placed.
Another problem with this movie is that the chemistry isn’t very believable or appealing between the cast members portraying the couples, who are all mismatched characters. Monica seems to be too selfish and flaky for Bernard and Steve. Meow (who’s about 25 to 30 years younger than Steve) is infatuated with Steve, based more on fan worship than a real romance. Lung and Josephine are the type of argumentative couple who probably shouldn’t get married because they just aren’t very compatible with each other.
What makes “Table for Six” grating is that it becomes repetitive very quickly. It doesn’t help that the conversations are witless and forgettable. None of the acting by the cast is special. The entire movie might have been better as a short film.
After trying to overstuff the plot with the back-and-forth contrivances and friction over the story’s love triangle, “Table for Six” then takes complicated issues and turns them into over-simplified resolutions and schmaltz. It leaves the movie with a tone that’s very off-balance. Some viewers might enjoy this disjointed movie, but others who are looking for a more compelling story, interesting conversations and engaging characters will not be as impressed with “Table for Six.”
GSC Movies released “Table for Six” in select U.S. cinemas on October 28, 2022. The movie was released in China, Hong Kong and Singapore on September 8, 2022.