Title – Blue Bayou (2021)
Director – Justin Chon (Ms. Purple)
Cast – Justin Chon, Alicia Vikander, Mark O’Brien, Emory Cohen
Plot – Korean born American Antonio LeBlanc (Chon) and his wife Kathy (Vikander) have their working-class lives in New Orleans turned upside down when Antonio faces the prospect of deportation after a violent confrontation with the police causes authorities to question his status as a United States citizen.
“It’s not where you’re from. It’s where you belong”
Review by Eddie on 10/02/2022
His biggest film yet in a career that still feels as though its only just beginning, actor, Youtuber and director Justin Chon delivers his biggest project yet in the form of the New Orleans set immigration themed drama Blue Bayou, a familiar feeling character drama that is nevertheless an effective and emotionally engaging experience with great performances from the multi-tasking Chon and the radiant Alicia Vikander.
Perhaps most well known in popular culture as Eric from the Twilight saga, Korean blooded Chon delivers a heartbreaking performance as down on his luck tattoo artist, one time felon and family man Antonio LeBlanc, who finds his workmanlike life turned on its head when he faces the possibility of being deported from the United States after a run in with the law and a discovery that his adoptive American parents never filed the correct paperwork to legally declare him an American citizen.
Based around some confronting home truths occurring in the United States in this present day when it comes to their dealings with long term citizens but not legally recognized ones, Bayou hits fairly hard when its stars align and the chemistry between Chon and Vikander as his long suffering but devoted wife Kathy and her daughter Jessie (a nice turn from young actress Sydney Kowalske) ensures that this intimate and raw humanly centered drama makes for some of 2021’s most touching moments as the LeBlanc’s try their best to keep their heads above water with the past and present converging to hold them under.
Shot in a documentary like manner, with Chon keeping things focused tight on his films subjects on most occasions throughout, Bayou never feels Hollywoodized or materialistic and even while it has a few too many narrative devices that don’t feel fully formed or too convenient for dramatic tension, the performances and honesty on show here will keep willing audiences involved throughout its entirety.
As an added bonus to the film itself, its reliving too see the talented Vikander as good she’s been in years, with a rough period of recent times that includes the likes of Beckett, Earthquake Bird, Jason Bourne and Tulip Fever all failing to make a mark or give material worthy to the talented performer who shone so bright in the likes of Ex Machina and The Light Between Oceans, Vikander’s performance here in Chon’s tale is a stern reminder that she’s one of the best working in the industry today when picking the right projects.
Final Say –
It doesn’t rewrite the dramatic rulebook and follow’s a fairly well-worn path too its emotional climax but Blue Bayou signals both a return to form for Alicia Vikander and an official announcing of Chon as a filmmaker to get excited about.
4 sausages out of 5