The American Immigration story isn’t as cut and dry as the news would have you believe. With most stories talking about undocumented immigrants, people who didn’t follow the “proper procedures” who came to live the American dreams. But the story of children who were brought here legally isn’t often told – especially when several of them are facing deportation due to a change in the law or the system that was made to make it impossible for them to stay in the country.
This weekend Focus Features is bringing Blue Bayou to the screen, a film that brings this oft untold story to the screen. The film focuses on Antonio, a man who was adopted as a young child from Korea and raised in the south and through the foster care system. After another run-in with the law, Antonio finds himself as a target of ICE and despite a legal adoption bringing him to the United States, he faces deportation. But his past and other forces are going to play a big part in his future.
Blue Bayou is hard to watch for many reasons. The movie does seem to go on about twenty minutes longer than it needed to, it has a slow pace and seems like it takes a while to get to the actual point of the story. But at its heart, no matter how artistically it tries to portray itself, it has a good message that needs to be told. The struggle of children who were adopted from other countries and raised as Americans to be betrayed by the system isn’t one that we hear often. The movie ends with a quite literal interpretation of what the system is doing to families and a sucker punch to viewers.
The movie did win awards at the Cannes Film Festival this year, and that no doubt is due to the artistic portrayals and the overall message in the film, which is important. However, the movie could still use some cutting down and it will have a limited audience looking for this type of content.
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About Blue Bayou
An official selection of the 2021 Cannes Film Festival from award-winning writer/director Justin Chon, Blue Bayou is the moving and timely story of a uniquely American family fighting for their future. Antonio LeBlanc (Chon), a Korean adoptee raised in a small town in the Louisiana bayou, is married to the love of his life Kathy (Alicia Vikander) and step-dad to their beloved daughter Jessie. Struggling to make a better life for his family, he must confront the ghosts of his past when he discovers that he could be deported from the only country he has ever called home.
Starring Justin Chon, Alicia Vikander, Mark O’Brien, Linh Dan Pham, Emory Cohen
Directed by Justin Chon