There hasn't been a movie as heart-breaking and depressing as "Blue Bayou" since "Manchester By The Sea."
This film attempts to shed light on international adoptees living in America who unexpectedly face deportation, and boy, does it stick the landing. Justin Chon, a triple threat as the director, writer and lead actor in this drama, soars as Antonio, a Korean adoptee who faces deportation despite living in America for more than 30 years.
BLUE BAYOU - Official Trailer - Only in Theaters September 17 www.youtube.com
Throughout the movie, Antonio rarely catches a break, and at times his punishments are well-deserved. But audiences continue to root for him beyond the credits scrolling because of how far Antonio's come. In turn, Chon himself has come a long way as an actor. Audiences most likely remember him from the "Twilight" series as Bella's friend Eric, so this movie is a nice reminder of Chon's talents beyond comic relief.
Along with his arresting performance, he has notable chemistry with each cast member. His scenes with Sydney Kowalske, who plays Antonio's stepdaughter Jessie, are a delight to watch. With Alicia Vikander who beautifully plays Antonio's wife Kathy, the lead cast is ready to pull at the audiences' hearts. But arguably, Parker (played by Linh Dan Pham) steals every scene she's in with Antonio.
As an international adoptee, the film speaks volumes in the little moments. For example, when Antonio brings his family to a dinner party Parker hosts, he makes fresh spring rolls with a little girl. Her roll is impeccably wrapped, but what about his? It's not pretty. After swapping their rolls, they laugh with his wife watching the entire thing.
People in Antonio's shoes might feel they're not embracing their culture like one perceives they should. In Antonio's case, he is inexperienced and doesn't know how to properly make a spring roll. It is a genuine scene that adds to how little he knows of his roots, which makes the prospect of being deported to a foreign land scarier. So as the plot snowballs into larger problems, the narrative's effects might have a greater impact on multicultural, adopted families.
Though it's not the film's message to share, it cannot go unnoticed.
The movie flourishes in its story and talented cast, but there's a small chip in the armor. The shaky camera style is a bit much, especially when it's not used sparingly. Most of the film isn't filled with fancy cinematic shots, especially some of which feel lazy and uninventive. But, again, it's a small flaw.
Overall, "Blue Bayou" is highly recommended. Be advised, bring the tissues and prepare for the emotional rollercoaster. However, that might not be enough in the end.
"Blue Bayou" premieres only in theaters Friday, September 17.
Follow the reporter Samantha Incorvaia at @s_incorvaia.