'Blue Bayou' review: No home management

“Blue Bayou” opens with a close-up of Antonio LeBlanc (played by writer and director Justin Chon) being interviewed for a job. Born in ...

“Blue Bayou” opens with a close-up of Antonio LeBlanc (played by writer and director Justin Chon) being interviewed for a job. Born in South Korea and raised by adoptive parents in Louisiana, Antonio needs to supplement his income as a tattoo artist to support his wife (Alicia Vikander), his daughter-in-law Jessie (Sydney Kowalske) and an imminent new baby. It’s immediately clear, however, that the invisible interviewer is less concerned with Antonio’s criminal convictions than with his origins.

In its unsubtle way, “Blue Bayou” strives to draw attention to the precarious limbo inhabited by adoptees born abroad whose citizenship has never been finalized. When an innocent argument in a supermarket causes Antonio to fall on the wrong side of two cops – one of whom (Mark O’Brien) is Jessie’s biological father and the other (Emory Cohen) nothing more than a bunch of boorish clichés – the incident heralds a series of growing threats to a life that is already far from secure.

These give the film a slow, sad drop of inevitability that is lightened by the warmth and naturalism of Chon’s performance. Beautifully relaxed family scenes help us forgive the heavy steering, as does a wonderfully low-key Linh-Dan Pham as a sick Vietnamese American who befriends Antonio and pulls on his Asian identity. In these moments we see a man with one foot on land and the other on water, his memory haunted by the image of his birth mother and a distant lagoon. And as the faces and fates of actual adoptees parade in a moving coda, Chon forces us to recognize how easily those who believe they are settled can become in an instant displaced and dispossessed.

Bayou blue
Rated R for racist language and violent law enforcement. Duration: 1 hour 59 minutes. In theaters.

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Newsrust - US Top News: 'Blue Bayou' review: No home management
'Blue Bayou' review: No home management
Newsrust - US Top News
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