American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Jade is born in Hong Kong but raised in Vancouver, where her parents try to maintain Chinese traditions in the North American melting pot.
Jade is like a lot of young people and would rather melt: "I wondered why we couldn't be like the Brady Bunch," she says. "Of course, they didn't need subtitles . . ." As "Double Happiness" opens, Jade (Sandra Oh) is in her early 20s and living a life that she keeps carefully separate from the routine at home. Dad works as a security guard and follows the penny stocks; Mom frets that Jade should find a nice Chinese boy and settle down and give her grandchildren, and sister Pearl is a co-conspirator.
Jade tells her parents what they want to hear, but is more liberated than they suspect. Her deception breaks down after she gets involved in a rare one-night stand and doesn't get home until her parents are already awake. This is not good. In no time she finds herself on a blind date with Andrew (Johnny Mah), a good-looking young lawyer who is pleasant and friendly, takes her sight-seeing, and eventually reveals that he is gay (he's out on a date because of the same kind of family pressure Jade is getting).
What can she tell her parents? It is typical of the sly humor with which Mina Shum writes and directs this film that Jade whispers to her parents the last thing they could possibly want to hear: Andrew made her split the dinner check. Obviously not a young man with a future.