The opening sequence of “Blue Bayou” is devastating in its simplicity. Antonio LeBlanc (Justin Chon, who wrote and directed the movie nicely) sits in a job interview. The voice offscreen asks him the place he is from. Antonio says slightly north of New Orleans. The voice comes again: “No. The place are you from?” This isn’t new territory for Antonio. He is been right here earlier than. He’s mainly compelled to say, “Korea,” although he was adopted and dropped at America when he was three years previous, has no ties to Korea, and considers himself an American. He’s an American. “Blue Bayou” works finest in small moments like this, the place the purpose is made without having to hammer it residence. There’s lots of “hammering residence” in “Blue Bayou,” the place symbols are wielded like mallets.
“Blue Bayou” will not be delicate, however, the subject at hand is not delicate both. Individuals who had been adopted into American households, typically 30, 40 years in the past, are facing deportation in increasing numbers, a course that rips up households and shatters lives. These persons are Individuals. They haven’t any connection to the place they had been born, no household there, nothing. The system is rigged towards them. There isn’t any attraction. There isn’t any due course of.
Antonio is a down-on-his-luck tattoo artist, residing in New Orleans. His previous is shady. He used to run with a crew of bike thieves, and he racked up a few felonies. He is clear now, however his previous will probably be an enormous drawback as soon as he faces deportation. He is married to Kathy (Alicia Vikander), a nurse, who’s pregnant together with his youngster. They’re additionally elevating Jessie (Sydney Kowalske), Kathy’s daughter from an earlier relationship. Jessie’s organic dad is a blue-eyed cop named Ace (Mark O’Brien), livid that his daughter is being “saved” from him. This powder-keg erupts throughout an altercation at a grocery retailer, when Ace’s accomplice (Emory Cohen)—a buffoonish caricature of an “unhealthy cop”—seeking to avenge his pal, assaults Antonio and drags him off to the native ICE facility.
As soon as the method begins, it is nearly unattainable to cease. There are not any appeals: who would one even attraction to? ICE is designed as an end-point, not a way station. Folks vanish into ICE’s grip. Antonio was adopted when he was three years previous. He has no ties to Korea. Seems, although, his adopted dad and mom did not fill out the citizenship papers, or did not file them correctly. He is screwed. The good Vondie Curtis-Hall performs a lawyer, whose retainer is a frightening $5,000. He is aware of his method around such circumstances. His outlook will not be hopeful. He has nearly no options.
“Blue Bayou” is sunk, once in a while, by its personal symbolism, and the way it wields stated symbols. It is not sufficient to make use of an emblem visually, and let the viewers put two and two collectively. A personality must have an extended monologue the place they clarify the image and preach on how the image is related to the circumstances. This occurs in a number of instances. It is extraordinarily heavy-handed. Chon intersperses artsy-looking dreamy fragments all through, sudden flashes of a lake glowing blue, a lady saw from beneath the water, a flash of a face by means of a wet window. In distinction to the largely hand-held footage of the remainder, these sequences must be extra compelling than they’re. As an alternative, they’re self-conscious and super-imposed, a pointless cinematic “flex.”
In the course of all of this, Antonio befriends a Vietnamese-American girl named Parker (the fantastic Linh Dan Pham). Parker pursues Antonio, inviting him to the month-to-month get-together at her home, in addition to exhibiting up on the tattoo parlor unexpectedly. Parker’s complicated issues put her into “manic pixie dream lady” territory, albeit of the middle-aged selection. She is mainly a magical being, who retains exhibiting up at precisely the correct second, with ready-made monologues about flowers and roots and fleur de Lis, which she bestows upon Antonio, often at sundown. In her time of the disaster, she is 100% obtainable to this model new particular person she met yesterday. Whereas Pham’s work is so beautiful, this relationship is probably the most contrived aspect of “Blue Bayou.” The second most contrived aspect is a heist. Sure, there’s a heist. Antonio’s daring getaway beggars perception. When in comparison with the stark spare dialogue within the opening scene, the sequence is unnecessary.
The middle of this story is the household unit of Kathy, Jessie, and Antonio, anguished on the breakup of their comfortable residence, overwhelmed and intimidated by the looming paperwork of American authorities, who would not care that Antonio has a child on the best way, that Antonio has lived right here for nearly 40 years. Vikander has by no means been higher, and Chon is open and current, significantly so within the scenes with Kowalske.
The uncompromising ending is much more practical than any monologue about fleur de lis or dreamy pictures of arms floating by means of blue water. The role name of deported adoptees that follows is crushing. “Blue Bayou” is aware that the cruelty is the point.
Now taking part in theaters.