Justin Chon writes, directs and stars in this stylish drama about a Korean-born, Louisiana-raised man who must go up against an unjust US immigration system to keep his family together.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2021
“To New Orleans family man Antonio LeBlanc (Justin Chon) and everyone close to him, he’s as American as the tattooed eagle spreading its wings defiantly across his throat... To ICE authorities, however, he’s nothing more than a Korean immigrant with a criminal record and faulty paperwork, and they want him out.
...Blue Bayou holds little back as it rails against the cruelties and hypocrisies of American immigration law to stirring effect... Closer in tenor to his mannered third feature Ms. Purple than his more tersely angry Sundance-winning breakout Gook, [director/actor] Chon’s overwrought filmmaking stands in stark contrast to the bone-weary believability and restraint of his own lead performance... Chon is out to highlight the casual everyday prejudice that is endemic to the Asian-American experience. Blue Bayou is best when it raises these issues through organic observation.
This is fine material for an urgent, politically punchy legal drama, but Chon isn’t done, as the narrative further lashes out in various directions: a flare-up of Antonio’s criminal activity, a pained search for his estranged foster mom, and a dreamy trail of flashbacks piecing together why he left Korea in the first place.” — Guy Lodge, Variety
“[T]his pervasive origin story question will linger and turn over in the mind of many viewers throughout the film... which uses Antonio’s story to illustrate that no matter how long we reside somewhere, our right to live will always be interrogated and doubted.” — Iana Murray, The Playlist