A Chinese woman gets the surprise of her life when one of the dumplings she makes comes to life. Instantly taken by the newborn like dumpling that has sprouted arms and legs, the woman begins to feed and nurture it. As with most babies, the dumpling starts to grow and develop its own personality, one that is not always in line with the overprotective woman’s wishes. The angst-ridden teenage years become rather contentious for their “mother” and “son” dynamics, with it reaching a boiling point when the dumpling decides it is times to leave home and move in with his fiancée.
Using food, a thing that usually nourishes us and bonds families together, as an allegory for the growing pains that comes with parenthood, Domee Shi’s short film Bao is a sight to behold. Capturing the joys, frustrations, and loneliness that come with raising a child, and then having to come to terms with them leaving the nest, the film is rich in emotion. Even if you are not a parent, the film will still speak volumes to you.
Similar to 2009’s Up, which made us reflect on the finite nature of human existence in the first twenty minutes, Bao immediately takes us back to our own experiences trying to establish independence from parental figures. It may have been the preceding short film for Pixar’s big summer event film Incredibles 2, but the film ended up upstaging that superhero family in every possible way. Sprinkling in several subtle nods to Toronto, where Shi was raised, Bao is a magnificent and touching film that will make you want to reconnect with your folks, preferably over a plate of dumplings.