As a Korean-American man raised in the Louisiana bayou works hard to make a life for his family, he must confront the ghosts of his past as he discovers that he could be deported from the only country he has ever called home.
Chon’s heartfelt performance lets us inside, opening the doors to a world most of us probably never will know. Antonio is poor and has a record. Living in poverty with his wife Kathy (Alicia Vikander) and adorable daughter Jessie (Sydney Kowalske), Anthony desperately searches for a new and better paying job, but with a felony record, he can’t outrun his past. His optimism turns inwardly into pain and hopelessness, but never will he let his family know he has failed.
To read Pam’s review in its entirety, go to http://reelhonestreviews.com/blue-bayou-finds-poetic-beauty-amidst-tragedy/
Justin Chon walks a tightrope in his latest feature Blue Bayou. The director, writer and star of this indie gem, he’s Antonio LeBlanc, a Korean-American adopted while he was young, though his parents never legally completed the process. While this could be looked at as a minor paperwork snafu, it becomes a major issue when deportation charges are brought against him by a petty police officer bearing a grudge.
Bad enough, but even worse because if LeBlanc is forced to leave, he will have to abandon his pregnant wife (Alicia Vikander) and her daughter (Sydney Kowalske) who treats him as her own father. In lesser hands, the complications that ensue – and there are many – could have come off as crass narrative manipulations. However, the chemistry between the two leads grounds the film, preventing any of key moments from devolving into melodrama. The finale informs us that LeBlanc’s predicament is not unique, as thousands of real-life refugees are stuck in a similar legal purgatory. Their story needs to be told and Chon does so fiercely and with conviction.
3 1/2 Stars