CRITICAL / FILM OPINION – In “Blue Bayou” a man who spent thirty in the United States suddenly risks deportation. A drama worn by Justin Chon, Alicia Vikander, Linh-Dan Pham and the young Sydney Kowalske.
Blue bayou or the change of a life
Blue bayou tells the story of Antonio LeBlanc, born in Korea but adopted at the age of three. He spent over thirty years in the United States, married Katy (Alicia vikander), considers Jessie, her daughter, as his own, and is expecting a child with his wife. He’s American, at least that’s what he thinks. After an altercation with two police officers, one of whom is Katy’s ex, he finds himself at the station, before being sent back to from the immigration service who considers him a stranger.
Indeed, he risks being expelled from the country because his parents had never regularized his situation when he was a child. An absurdity for his case and that of many others, but a means for the immigration service to deport by the thousands. His only solution to stay will then be to prove its usefulness to society.
A moving film
Directed by Justin Chon, who plays the lead role, Blue bayou is an intimate drama that does not skimp on emotion. Above all, there is the emotion of seeing Antonio doing the best for his family, after having had a past as a petty delinquent marked by two arrests. The emotion also when the director places his camera in the family circle, with Katy and Jessie. This is where Justin Chon best reveals his sensitivity.
When Jessie is part of her fears of being abandoned again by the father figure represented by Antonio. When Katy expresses her despair to her husband who, from her point of view, does not put all the chances on her side to avoid an eviction. And so obviously when Antonio sees his world crumble.
And many themes
Justin Chon could have been satisfied with the initial situation as an emotional trigger. But in wanting to tell more, it sometimes gives the feeling of adding layers to ensure our emotion. We will see Antonio undergo a form of discrimination, confronting his adoptive mother or even being beaten up before a final which, by itself, involves several twists and turns. Which does not prevent this sequence from being heartbreaking. It is also difficult not to shed a few tears in front, mainly thanks to the young Sydney Kowalske (Jessie).
In addition, we must note the intelligent development of Jessie’s biological father. The latter is in conflict with Katy to see his daughter. We certainly understand the point of view of his ex-partner, and even of his daughter whom he abandoned years before, but also the legitimate desire of this father to redeem himself and to be present now.
Finally, there is the present of a last character who is important, a woman of Vietnamese origin who befriends Antonio. Here again the filmmaker could have shown more simplicity, and it was perhaps not so necessary to add to this protagonist, very well carried by Linh-Dan Pham, a cancer in the terminal phase. A choice which nevertheless finds its interest in visual ideas. The director managing to propose notable plans, mainly outdoors by letting his performers (and himself) act naturally. Or during dreamlike flashbacks to Antonio’s biological mother. A way to push a little harder his questioning about parenthood, abandonment and the construction of an identity.
Blue bayou by Justin Chon, in theaters September 15, 2021. Above the trailer. Find all our trailers here.