Amy Tan is the wildly successful author of The Joy Luck Club and more. Her books, and the movies inspired by them, have had a huge cultural impact. The Joy Luck Club is largely credited with being the first mainstream American film with an all-Asian cast – a feat sadly not repeated until Crazy Rich Asians. Tan’s stories reach well beyond the Chinese community, hers are universal tales of immigration, and mothers and daughters.
In Unintended Memoir, we get to understand her work in new depth thanks to a close examination of her own childhood, and her relationship with her mother, even as she begins to lose her to dementia. It’s a dynamic that many of us may find familiar.
Also illuminating is the insight into Tan’s process as a writer, and her struggle with writer’s block. But most of all, Tan is a superlative story-teller, and her true family history is stranger, richer, and more interesting than fiction. James Redford has put together a compelling, straight-forward documentary that has storytelling in its heart, which makes it hard not to love.