Blue Bayou

Blue Bayou
Running time:119 minutes
Director:Justin Chon
Release date:17 september 2021
Antonio LeBlanc, of Korean-American descent, was adopted and spent his life in a small village in the Louisiana Bayou. Now married to the woman in his life, Kathy, they are raising Jessie, her daughter from a first marriage. As he works hard to provide the best for his family, he is forced to confront the ghosts of his past when he learns that he may be deported from the only country he has ever considered his own.

Mulder's Review

"When I read about children from South Korea who were adopted by Americans as infants and then uprooted from their home country and deported from the United States as adults to a country they never knew, I was more than touched - the stories literally broke my heart. As a kid in Los Angeles, I hung out with a lot of kids from Korea who were adopted, and I always felt a huge difference between their journey and mine, as someone who was born here. It's something very American and yet never shown in movies" - Justin Chon

This year, in the absence of many American celebrities present at the Deauville American Film Festival, the program has allowed us to discover some excellent films, even if some of them have already been unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival in the presence of the cast of these films. Blue Bayou was the first film of the official competition discovered in Deauville this year and remained one of our favorites during the festival. Although it didn't win the Grand Prix, it did win the Audience Award and we can only validate this award as this film totally moved us to tears and still remains in our memories as an indelible imprint. 

The fourth film written and directed by Justin Chon (Man Up (2015), Gook (2017), Ms Purple (2019)). It is easy to understand that the subject of the film occupies an important part in the heart of the writer, director and actor Justin and that he wanted to invest himself totally that it is by a realization as strong as perfectly mastered, dialogues that ring true and especially a perfect casting in which we find in the main roles also Alicia Vikander, Mark O'Brien and the too rare Linh Dan Pham.

The American society clearly reveals the many injustices of immigration and the laws that can break entire families. It is by addressing emotionally charged issues that Blue Bayou stands out as a great American film that is perfectly in tune with the times. Surely after the first independent films in which the director Justin Chon seemed to search for himself and develop an undeniable know-how as a writer and director, Blue Bayou imposes him as a gifted director who knows how to perfectly capture the flaws of the current American society and to press on universal and important themes. The notion of Family is at the very center of the story as is that of fatherhood. 

Blue Bayou places at the center of its story an American family fighting for its future and not to be separated. Antonio LeBlanc (Justin Chon) is a Korean adoptee who grew up in a small Louisiana bayou town and as a child was nearly drowned by his mother before ending up in the United States in a foster home. Despite his personal wounds and running away from that family, he made a life for himself as a tattoo artist and married the love of his life, Kathy (Alicia Vikander), and became a stepfather to their beloved daughter, Jessie. While his wife is pregnant with their first child, Antonio LeBlanc must face the ghosts of his past to avoid being deported from the United States. Between his girlfriend's ex-husband and acquaintances who commit reprehensible acts, Antonio LeBlanc's life will gradually become more complex than ever.

Far from being made up of clichés about Louisiana, Blue Bayou is a realistic film about the difficulty of the American middle class to live decently and not to fall on the wrong side of the law. It is no coincidence that Kathy's former husband is a police officer (perfectly played by actor Mark O'Brien). He represents the American law in all its complexity and its many failings. In the same way, a true friendship is born between the Vietnamese refugee Parker (Linh Dan Pham in one of her best roles) and Antonio. Parker is suffering from terminal cancer and will show him the importance of staying on the right path and being proud of his origins. Blue Bayou stands out as a fascinating and captivating film because of the way it depicts life and the fight for a just cause even if fate seems to prevent good from triumphing victoriously. 

The last scene of the film may move you a lot and remind you of the importance of fighting until the last breath for your own. Without a doubt, this film stands out in our eyes as one of the best dramatic films seen this year. Not only does it establish Justin Chon as a gifted director but also shows us through its end credits the many victims of a fallible system that leads to the separation of American families. By taking a fair and sensitive look at immigration in the United States, the film deserves to be discovered in the cinema and to be thought about.

Blue Bayou 
Written and directed by Justin Chon
Produced by Charles D. King, Kim Roth, Poppy Hanks, Justin Chon
Starring Justin Chon, Alicia Vikander, Mark O'Brien, Linh Dan Pham, Sydney Kowalske, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Emory Cohen
Cinematography : Matthew Chuang, Ante Cheng
Edited by Reynolds Barney
Music by Roger Seun
Production companies : Entertainment One, MACRO
Distributed by Focus Features (United States), Universal Pictures France (France)
Release date : July 13, 2021 (Cannes), September 17, 2021 (United States), September 15, 2021 (France)
Running time : 119 minutes

Seen on September 4, 2021 at the Centre International de Deauville

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