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Time Out saysWang's full atonement for the melodramatic excesses of The Joy Luck Club is a collaboration with the novelist Paul Auster, who contributes his first original screenplay. Five main characters, each with his or her own quirk or problem, find their lives criss-crossing over a few days in 1990 in and around Brooklyn, in ways that leave all of them changed for the better. Keitel's tobacco-store manager, serving as the neighbourhood sage and grieving over a stash of Cuban cigars ruined in a plumbing accident, is the most colourful; Whitaker's failed father and husband, presiding over a run-down garage, the most touching. The precision of the plotting and execution sometimes seems a shade over-calculated, but the sheer warmth of the performances (and the spirit behind them) carries the film through to its extremely cheering finale.