Wed. Oct 27th, 2021

It’s hard not to appreciate the ambition of a film like Blue Bayou. In many respects, writer, director, and star Justin Chon has crafted an extremely well-realized character portrait, creating such a holistic vision of the life of his protagonist that it’s tempting to call the film epic for its aspirational scope. There are moments of genuinely heartbreaking visual storytelling on display here, as emotional beats wait behind corners to gut punch you again and again, particularly in a climax where numerous disparate plot threads converge. But for as compellingly complex as the intricacies of a life may be, that isn’t necessarily the same as crafting a coherent narrative from those pieces, and Blue Bayou is so overwritten that its humanism becomes a meandering distraction from its compelling social commentary.

Blue Bayou is being sold as a Big Issue movie focused on the deportation of adopted immigrants who have no emotional or familial connection to their country of origin, and that marketing push is something of a half-truth. Chon stars as Antonio, a Korean-American living in New Orleans with his wife Kathy (Alicia Vikander) and stepdaughter Jessie (Sydney Kowalske) as they anticipate the arrival of a newborn. When an encounter with Kathy’s ex, local police officer Ace (Mark O’Brien), escalates to a violent arrest, Antonio is tagged by ICE as an illegal immigrant, despite Antonio having lived in the United States since he was three years old. Though this seems like the set-up for a maudlin court procedural about the injustice of deporting adoptees, the film slowly unravels into an examination of the factors that made Antonio who he is over the course of a lifetime where he has felt displaced in the only home he has ever known.

By admin