The lovechild of ardour and expertise, Justin Chon’s “Blue Bayou” — a lyrical and emotional portrait of id and household — is a bit that drums up a lot of assist inside the movie neighborhood, normal audiences, and the Academy Awards in numerous branches. Leaving you in a puddle of tears by the top credit, the Cannes Movie Pageant choice could possibly be a slam dunk for distributor Focus Features throughout all eligible classes, together with finest image.
“Blue Bayou” tells the transferring and well timed story of Antonio LeBlanc (Chon), a Korean adoptee who’s raised in a small city within the Louisiana bayou. There, he’s married to his spouse Kathy (performed by Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander) and is a step-dad to her daughter Jessie (performed by newcomer Sydney Kowalske). Struggling to make a greater life for his household, Antonio should confront his sophisticated previous when he faces doable deportation from the one nation he’s ever recognized.
Well timed is an understatement on how the story suits into our present local weather and tradition in America. More likely to do battle within the unique screenplay discipline that would embrace former nominees and winners equivalent to Aaron Sorkin and Wes Anderson, Chon, who may be finest recognized for enjoying Eric within the “Twilight” franchise, humbly takes on the burden of his narrative message. It’s not one thing the author’s department is unfamiliar with. The highlight that the movie serves to a grotesque a part of our American tradition nonetheless prevalent immediately, with many at-risk with out their information, might be value all of the accolades. This may increasingly drum up appreciable assist from the actor’s department, which can do wonders for its expertise in entrance of the digicam. Is there an ideal narrative that’s constructed? No, however when you find yourself serving a number of facets of a film, with Chon’s greatest directorial function but, a number of the overdone beats are inclined to both slog or get in the best way. So let me be clear, Hollywood could be smart to offer Chon the keys to his subsequent enterprise and see the place he desires to take us for the trip.
Solely eight filmmakers have been nominated for appearing and directing for a similar movie – Orson Welles for “Citizen Kane” (1941), Sir Laurence Olivier for “Hamlet” (1948), Woody Allen for “Annie Corridor” (1977), Warren Beatty, twice for “Heaven Can Wait” (1978) and “Reds” (1981), Kenneth Branagh for “Henry V” (1989), Kevin Costner for “Dances with Wolves” (1990), Roberto Benigni for “Life is Lovely (1998) and Clint Eastwood, twice for “Unforgiven” (1992) and “Million Greenback Child” (2004). Chon is greater than deserving and worthy of becoming a member of this elite listing as Antonio is grounded however visibly affected by what’s round him.
That is simply Vikander’s strongest work since her 2015 Oscar-winning flip in Tom Hooper’s “The Danish Lady.” Slipping proper into the movie’s world, she could possibly be one of many extra accessible parts for awards teams to acknowledge. Nonetheless, it’ll be attention-grabbing the place she decides to marketing campaign her achievement, as I see it as a transparent and defining main function. On the time of her Oscar win, the lengthy argued debate surrounding class fraud was trying prefer it was gaining traction amongst awards lovers. Vikander, together with Rooney Mara (“Carol”), had been being known as out for his or her main roles going the “simple route” for supporting nominations. Once you examine her work in “Blue Bayou” subsequent to her co-star Linh Dan Pham, a outstanding actress who delivers an astounding flip as Parker, a girl who comes into Antonio’s life at a vital time, you can not examine the 2 characters by way of display screen time and influence on the narrative’s story. Each are worthy, however will hopefully marketing campaign appropriately.
Ante Cheng and Matthew Chuang’s blue hues and Emmanuel Lubezki-like digicam work ought to result in consideration for cinematography. The identical goes for the enhancing by Reynolds Barney and music by Roger Suen, who has labored with Chon on his options equivalent to “Ms. Purple” and “Gook.” The household that sticks collectively makes stunning films collectively, it appears.
There might be pure comparisons to final 12 months’s “Minari,” which discovered recognition in a number of classes and gained supporting actress for Yuh-Jung Youn. They’re not unwarranted, however it’s past AAPI aesthetics and themes. I discovered the throughline of many artistic and acclaimed auteurs and artists sprinkled in components, equivalent to Barry Jenkins and Jim Sheridan. “In America” and “Moonlight” poke via the movie in a really constructive method, and with a September launch coming, I can see individuals actually getting behind it; nevertheless, it’s honest to say that the Cannes crowd wasn’t across-the-board excited by the movie’s execution. Not simply because Emory Cohen has a task within the movie, however some components hawk again to “The Place Past the Pines” by Derek Cianfrance, which was well liked by many however discovered no assist on the awards circuit. The important thing might be having a number of branches purchase into what Chon is promoting. Hopefully, a bunch like SAG will see the worth and provides it a leg up with an ensemble point out, which is one in every of its key strengths.
It’s a protracted street to go, however “Blue Bayou” feels just like the beginning line firing in awards season. So let’s see if it may possibly keep within the race.
“Blue Bayou” is produced by Poppy Hanks, Charles D. King and Kim Roth. The movie opens on Sept. 17 in theaters.