Canada 86 min. 1993
“Small Pleasures” is a feature film in 35 mm colour about two young women who have recently come to Toronto from China in the fateful spring of 1989. SALLY and ZHAO have different approaches to life in the West. Sally has always dreamt of coming to the west and embraces everything new with enthusiasm. Zhao is less sure about the value of Western ideas although she is not in a hurry to return to the fiance her father has arranged for her.
To support themselves while going to school, they work at MR. YING’s restaurant. Mr. Ying is also their landlord, paying them little and taking most of it back in rent. At the restaurant they meet LI AN, a linguistics professor at home, exiled from China because of his political writings, who also works as a waiter in the restaurant. Li and Zhao begin an affair, even though Li is married, both believing that his wife will never be allowed out of China. Sally, meanwhile, meets a handsome “local guy”, JACK KELLY, a med student, and quickly jumps into a relationship with him in order to learn more about Western culture. Although at first Sally and Zhao have everything going for them, their lives start to unravel as they eventually lose their relationships, their jobs and their place to live.
As their lives in Toronto get more and more complicated, events in Tiananmen are building, coming to a climax in the bloody massacre in Beijing. In the aftermath of Tiananmen Sally and Zhao know they can’t go back. But like the Chinese students who will let nothing stop them, Zhao and Sally decide to carry on.
“Small Pleasures” is the first Chinese-Canadian feature film made by a Chinese-Canadian.
“Made with Great conviction on a miniscule budget, Small Pleasures is a landmark film that builds to a deeply moving conclusion.”
– Cameron Bailey, Toronto International Film Festival
“Lock’s direction is slow and meticulous; his film generous and enjoyable.”
– Dave Kehr, New York Daily News
… a lovely visual style… Chinatown in Toronto is brought to life as a place with its own sombre poetry.
– Globe and Mail
“This 1993 drama was shot in Toronto and is a real find.
– James Bawden, Toronto Star
Keith Lock’s feature debut, “Small Pleasures,” is a raw but decent addition to a growing body of films (“Combination Platter,””The Wedding Banquet”) dealing with multiculturalism and the experience of Asian immigrants in North America…. In this first film, scripter-helmer demonstrates generosity of spirit and ample talent in handling his actors.