Dinner Is Served
The second chapter of Launchpad switches the tone and style across to an episode called Dinner Is Served. Xiauyu is inspired by Allen’s leadership at the restaurant and decides to try out for maître-de.
The trials and tribulations of learning a second language, along with being torn between his current and new direction in life.
The juxtaposing ideas are beautifully presented, typified by Xiaoyu’s friends playing loud music while he tries to learn the ropes. It’s a small segment but one that reinforces how difficult it is to break free from the norm.
Xiaoyu is easy to warm to and his little wobble midway through dinner service is actually quite tense. Thankfully he managed to pull it together and entertain the guests. However, despite his adversity he learns his position is a given simply because of his heritage.
These ideas are nicely woven together, although the film does leave on a somewhat ambiguous note.
The Ending Explained
The short film ends with Xiaoyu overhearing that he’s going to be picked because it would be a good opportunity for international students to look up and be inspired by him. It’s not about his talent or how hard he works, at least not for Allen’s stuffy father anyway.
Allen’s smirk is telling, showing a more rebellious streak and an approval that Xiaoyu has embraced his true self.
The ending essentially sees everyone shuffling out of dinner, away from the trio of Chinese students defiantly singing “the island is dead with no soul” This shuffling could be linked back to Xiaoyu and his friends commenting how they’re likened to penguins.
Black and white is used throughout to signify this as well, although it could also be a nod toward Ancient China with the yin and yang symbol.
Either way, this film does well to show fear and anxiety in the wake of the unknown.
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