Justin Chon, Alicia Vikander, Mark O’Brien
Rated: R for language throughout and some violence
In ‘Blue Bayou’ Antonio LeBlanc (Chon), his wife Kathy (Alicia Vikander) and step-dad to their beloved daughter Jessie, face possible separation as they try to make a better life for themselves. Antonio is an adopted child from Korea raised in Louisiana, and because of the way refugees were brought in there is little to no documentation of him verifying him a legal immigrant. After a run in with his daughter-in-laws father, Antonio may be deported if he can’t face his past and find a way to verify his character.
This is written, directed, and stars Justin Chon, and you can feel his heart through ever best of the story, in this heartbreaking but important look at how flawed our system can be for people that have been living in America since before they can remember.
First the performances by both leads are fantastic. The relationship between the couple is crucial to believing any of the characters actions and they sell the relationship very well. Alicia Vikander should be nominated for her performance. As well the young actress who plays the daughter is very well done.
This story tries to tackle a lot of political issues and immigration issues that is difficult to balance but for the most part is directed well. I feel there could be more focus on our main story if we cut out some themes however I continued to follow and empathize with the film throughout.
The ending is by far the most gut wrenching thing in the film. Chon acts his heart out here and the film ends in a way that is so unsatisfying but deserved at the same time. Go in with a box of tissues.
Overall, ‘Blue Bayou’ is an important watch but a hard one. There are Oscar-worthy performances from both Chon and Vikander, but the story needs to be more focused that it is.