Miss Wonton

Director: Meng Ong
Screenwriters: Meng Ong

Institute History


The title Miss Wonton refers to the main character in the film, a recent Chinese immigrant named Hong, aka, Xina, aka An Na, who is taught by another Chinese émigré that in America people are often referred to by the food others think they resemble. Caucasian men, the woman declares, can range from meatloaf to escargot. When Miss Wonton finds her escargot, stereotypes and dreams lurch startlingly into reality.

An Na has come to New York from a small village in China to seek a better life. She is given work and living quarters in Buddha's Happiness, a Chinese restaurant staffed by fellow émigrés. Quickly becoming restless with her lodging and confinement, An Na seeks out the Golden Palace, a corner of Grand Central Station where female immigrants speak of the old country while seeking the attention of men from the new. An Na quickly meets and is bedded by a slimy suburbanite. When her mother arrives from China, An Na claims she lives in the suburbanite's tract home and settles her mother there. Of course, all is revealed when the man returns with his wife. Finally, An Na alone must decide her fate in her adopted country.

The suffering of women has been a popular twentieth century concern in Chinese literature and film. Director Ong explores this concern in Miss Wonton. The film is stylized at times to look lush and old-fashioned and at other times sterile and modern. An Na traverses both territories uneasily as she is a "good girl" who's also interested in sex, risk-taking, and eventually self-empowerment. Her suffering, the "fallen" motif, is given a new spin here with a lack of easy answers and complete faith in the unknown.

— Andrea Alsberg

Screening Details


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