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'Blue Bayou' (2021)


I'm a huge fan of Justin Chon's previous work, especially Ms Purple which is highly underrated. Blue Bayou starts off well and again focuses on the issues of minority figures in the USA. Chon plays Antonio, an about to be father married to a US woman (brilliantly played by Alicia Vikkander who is as good as she has ever been). Chon himself is fine and the scenes he has with his family are very moving and well performed.

Struggles occur when Antonio has a brush with the law. It's an emotional ride that ebbs and flows and takes us on a journey with Antonio and his family. The trouble is, it's a bit too emotional. There are segments that are just too forced and seem to be placed in the film to try and ramp up the emotions too readily. The two cop characters are like caricatures from other more off the wall films. The ending is way too melodramatic and overwrought. It could have helped with a little more subtlety in the script. There is also a heist / chase / action type sequence that just felt completely out of place in what is at it's core a family drama.

There is however a great subplot involving another Asian family that delicately assesses the experience of being a minority family (even though it has a little too close to the DNA of 'Minari' at times).

Chon's talent does shine through and he is a tiny rung on the ladder below great independent filmmakers like Sean Baker and Eliza Hittman (this film also has one of the most stunningly gorgeous opening shots I've seen in a long time). But this one just fell short of being a really great film because of the excessive and unwarranted melodrama.