Blue Bayou written and directed by Justin Chon is a powerful new film about a Korean-American, Antonio LeBlanc, played by Justin Chon, who is fighting for his family and his status as a US citizen.
Adopted from Korea at the age of 3, Antonio lives in Louisiana. He speaks fluid English. He is married to a US citizen, and he and his wife are expecting their first child. He is a stepfather to Jessie (Sydney Kowalske), the daughter of his wife, Kathy, played by Alicia Vikander, who calls him daddy.
Victim of racial profiling by a police officer, he is arrested and then his immigration status is called into question. Kathy and Antonio seek the counsel of a lawyer, played by Vondie Curtis-Hall, who informs them that before the year 2000, US foreign adoption laws were very ill defined, and in many cases immigration paperwork was never filed by adopting parents. In Antonio’s case, his adopting family abandoned him after 6 months and he bounced around in foster care for much of his young life after coming to the US.
The film was a powerful representation of the uncertainty and difficulty many immigrants face in the US. It was both deeply saddening and moving as you watch the turmoil the family endures, especially the child affected by it all. The film brings awareness to an important issue that has yet to be addressed and has been the cause of many, many deportations of adults who have lived in the US for 30 to 40 years and some times longer, do not even know the language of their country of origin, who are deported to this foreign land without any family connections or similar ties to the country they are being sent.
Blue Bayou is an official selection of the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. The film contains some beautiful cinematography of the Louisiana bayou and breathtaking sunset shots taken around New Orleans. The screenplay also stood out in the way that he portrayed both the struggle and impossible choices the protagonist faces. Also, his own identity as an Asian American, looking for his past and a cultural touchstone and comparing it to the over thirty years he spent in Louisiana feeling like an outcast as the “other.”
The film will be released this Friday, September 17 only in theaters.