Set amongst a Louisiana backdrop, and utilizing those surroundings to their utmost potential, Blue Bayou plunges you headfirst into the reality of abandonment and anxiety adoptees feel in the United States in a film cements its directors as one to watch for in the future and its leading actress as one of the most underrated actresses of our time.
Justin Chon wrote, directed, and starred as Antonio Leblanc, a Korean adoptee who works as a tattoo artist in New Orleans, who has a baby on the way with Alicia Vikander’s Kathy, and he now faces the potential of being deported back to a country he does not remember. With felonies and debt, Antonio’s prospects of staying in America do not look good.
Chon has spoken extensively about how personal this story was to him, telling GQ he worked on the film for four years, and that passion shines through at almost every turn of the movie. He plays the part of Antonio with intensity and despair that is not seen often, and in what will more than likely be a snub, he deserves award season recognition for this role.
The same can also be said for Vikander as well. Appearing in The Green Knight this year as well, she has become one of the most consistent actresses around, commanding the most emotional scene in the movie as she battles it out with Chon as their lives are falling apart in their kitchen. While Chon sometimes overdoes the Southern accent, Vikander nails the twangs and subtleties that make it feel like she was born and raised in New Orleans.
The best part of watching a movie is being introduced to situations and problems in the world that you are not aware of, and that is why Blue Bayou works so well. Chon knows this situation intimately and portrays it with the care it absolutely deserves. It is an emotional rollercoaster that will leave you stunned at the end, and one that should start a conversation that we desperately need to be having about our immigration policy as we needlessly separate people from the land they have known their entire lives.