Blue Bayou tells the story of Korean adoptee Antonio (Justin Chon). Raised in Louisiana by various foster families and following the instability of his life, Antonio seeks to live straight and be a family man for his pregnant wife, Kathy (Alicia Vikander). The film starts with Antonio in the middle of a job interview, accompanied by his stepdaughter, Jessie (Sydney Kowalski). Antonio’s past keeps him from getting the second job and Kathy decides to go back to work to help support the family. When he’s not working his only job at a tattoo studio, he spends time with Jessie to help her adjust to the thought of having a sibling. Antonio’s criminal history keeps coming back to haunt him, and despite his best intentions, he keeps making poor decisions.
While in a supermarket, Kathy and Antonio get into a verbal altercation. Unfortunately, Kathy’s ex-husband, Ace, a police officer, witnesses this argument, and Antonio gets into a brawl with Ace’s partner. When Antonio goes to jail, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) takes him into custody because his foster parents fumbled the citizenship paperwork and that he’s a convicted felon. He decides to fight to stay in the US, leading him to reflect on his past.
Antonio meets Parker (Linh-Dan Pham) during this self-discovery, a terminally ill Vietnamese refugee. Parker introduces him and his family to her large, extended family. This makes Antonio think about his own Korean background and the mother who gave him up for adoption. I typically don’t particularly like subplots, but the Parker subplot was much needed.
I was genuinely impressed by Chon’s writing, acting, and directing. I’m glad that I didn’t remember he played Eric in the Twilight films because it would have distracted me. Chon’s acting was so above and beyond his other performances I’ve seen. His interactions with Kowalski felt real, and it was impressive. Vikander was just okay; I don’t really get her. Also, her greasy hair wig grossed me out. At least, I hope that was a wig.
I can’t say enough about Chon’s directing; the film was beautifully shot. Obviously, there were a lot of bayous and blue water from the title. When the symbolism of the water is finally explained near the end of the film, it’s heartbreaking but compelling.
I am not a very emotional person, and it takes a lot to make me cry. Little did I know that this film would cause me to burst into tears at the end. Thank God only one other theatregoer was sitting pretty far away. There is not one wasted minute in this film. It’s beautifully shot, poignant, and worth a watch. I can’t recommend it enough.
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I’m a Data Analyst, from the land of Matthew McConaughey. I’m an avid movie-goer and love seeing films in theaters. My most recent favorite films are Good Time, Only Lovers Left Alive, TENET, and England is Mine. When I’m not at the movies, I’m either reading or watching obscene amount of true crime and historical documentaries.