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“Powerfully moving” – Blue Bayou (Film Review)

2 min read

The latest outing from writer, director and lead actor , , is a powerfully moving tale about Antonio LeBlanc, a Korean-American (played by Chon himself). A man who's expecting his first child with his American wife (played by ), not to mention being a stepfather to her daughter, but due to unfortunate and tragic events, he is left fighting and struggling to be with his family and claim his status as a US citizen. This was a passion project for Chon, working for four years on the project and having consulted with adoptees and getting their advice and approval, even consulting them as he was editing it during the post-production stage.

It is evidently clear throughout that Chon absolutely cared about the hard subject matter presented in this and wanted to make this film feel authentic, believable, and as harsh and raw as possible, and that truly shows. This film is a powerful representation and exploration of the kinds of difficulty, insecurity and uncertainty that has no doubt plagued and tormented many immigrants and adoptees in the US, bringing awareness to a very important and serious issue that has hardly been addressed to this day and resulting in countless deportations of adults around the world. It is brutal, tragic and Chon doesn't shine away or glamourize its subject in the slightest.

Beautifully shot on 16mm film, the film's presentation is very rich in quality, capturing the tough, gritty and grounded vibe of New Orleans. Helped enormously by and Ante Cheng's breathtaking cinematography. Justin Chon gives Antonio the heart and tragic vulnerability that's required, yet it's Alicia Vikander who grounds the film thanks to her nuanced yet emotionally raw performance.

While overly-sentimental at times, the film gets away with it nevertheless, thanks to the right balance of beauty and honesty while still keeping its foot in with the film's harsh subject matter about immigration and American society. Chon proves to be an efficient storyteller that approaches his real topics and his filmmaking craft with admirable sincerity.

Blue Bayou is out on DVD and Blu-Ray on June 27th.