EVE & THE FIRE HORSE (Julia Kwan). 92 minutes. Opens Friday (January 27). For venues and times, see Movie Listings. Rating: NN Rating: NN
The coming-of-age of Asian-Canadian girls (where are the guys, by the way?) has long been limned in our films. But there comes a point where long-limned stories, like gangly kids and adorable families, begin to wear on your nerves.
Julia Kwan 's debut feature drifts back to the 70s, when nine-year-old Eve ( Phoebe Jojo Kut ) is growing up dreamy in pre-diversity British Columbia. Her Chinese immigrant family has a thousand little rules for every moment in life -- a practical mix of Buddhism, tradition and lucky-money superstition.
Then Eve discovers Jesus at school, and it's like being cast out of the garden. Suddenly, she starts asking questions like "Are the Buddha and Jesus friends, Mommy?" It's not long before zealotry sets in.
I'd love to see an exploration of how shared beliefs enforce conformity even as they give order to a chaotic world. Eve & The Fire Horse is not that film. Kwan, who made a lovely short drama five years ago called Three Sisters On Moon Lake, belabours the whimsy she's already demonstrated she can produce.
Movies with child protagonists work best when they temper that whimsy with the remorselessness particular to children. There's a singing goldfish in Eve & The Fire Horse. After that, nothing else matters.