Sharon Omi and George Takei sit on a bench in the 2014 movie "Eat With Me."

Movie Night: Eat With Me (2014)

Welcome to movie night, where we scour the menus and order up entrees we think you might like. This week, we’re stopping over by Netflix for some takeout…

The cover art for the movie "Eat With Me."

Eat With Me is a low-key movie of the sort you’ve seen a lot of if you watch indie flicks often, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. Elliot is an emotionally distant, unsuccessful restaurateur reaching the point in his life where he doesn’t have a lot of excuses left for his inability to commit, his inability to keep his business going, and his tendency to disappoint everyone in his life. His estranged mother, Emma, has done everything right by her own standards and is still deeply unsatisfied with her life. One of the movie’s opening scenes has her discarding her wedding ring like scratching at a rash. When is she going back? She doesn’t know, she doesn’t want to talk about it, and Elliot’s confusion at her reappearance in his life overshadows any excitement he might feel about rekindling their relationship. 

This was part of our slow-but-steady effort to watch all of Netflix’s gay movies, made slower and less steady by my burning desire to watch Eating Out: Band Camp and B’s desire to not. We were looking for something relatively light, and Eat With Me seemed both cute and, B noted, “Maybe kind of like Saving Face?” (It’s impossible not to compare the two movies: there aren’t many options in the gay Chinese kids and their moms having feelings genre.) 

Our feelings: I enjoyed this movie while we were watching it, but it didn’t make an incredibly strong impression over the long term. It’s often hard to tell how a low-profile gay movie is going to turn out – is it a romance? Is it a thoughtful meditation on the human experience? Is it going to be sweet or cathartic, or are you going to end up sitting there thinking, “Well, that’s a kind and meaningful prediction of how my life is going to turn out”?

Eat With Me isn’t a romance, but it has a sweet romantic subplot, and graphic enough sex scenes to either be awkward or satisfying, depending on your feelings about dudes doin’ it on your screen. It’s really about Elliot and his mother working things out between them, which is sometimes reassuring and sometimes painful. B held her breath during the scenes where they talk about his orientation, made perhaps especially poignant by their mutual sense that they aren’t trying to hurt each other and this shouldn’t be so hard. And in the scene that stuck out to me most, Elliot cooks dinner specifically for his mother, only for us to learn why his restaurant is failing miserably: the food is not very good. As happy as I was to see Elliot come to terms with his mom and start smooching cute boys, I was at least as excited when he started cooking food that people actually wanted to eat.


Bechdel pass: With enthusiasm! For a movie that is nominally about a gay man and his mom, Eat With Me allows a lot of time for Emma to process and get into trouble with bad-girl-next-door Maureen.

Body count: Zero! Well, possibly a few relationships we didn’t care about anyway.

Was it a phase? Definitively no!

Most redeeming feature: George Takei’s cameo as… himself, fairy godmother.

Recommended for: Low-key Netflix and chill with your favorite indie food snob.

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