(director/writer: Sean Wang; cinematographer: Sam Davis; editor: Arielle Zakowski; music: Giosuè Greco; cast: Izaac Wang (Chris Wang), Joan Chen (Chungsing Wang), Shirley Chen (Vivian Wang), Chang Li Hua (Nai Nai, Chris’s grandmother), Mahaela Park (Madi); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Carlos Lopez Estrada, Josh Peters, Valerie Bush, Sean Wang; Maiden Voyage Pictures; 2024)

“It’s a decent immigrant film that is heartfelt.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The feature film debut of Taiwanese-American filmmaker Sean Wang tells a warm, semi-autobiographical, nostalgia coming-of-age story about growing up in America with an Asian immigrant family.

The story revolves around Chris (Izaac Wang), a 13-year-old Taiwanese-American boy living in Fremont, California, in 2008. He spends the summer playing with friends, where the most significant thing he does is make a video of his friends blowing up a neighbor’s mailbox, before he enters High School in the fall.

The title Didi is derived from the Mandarin name “Little Brother,” which Chris’ family endearingly call him.

 Chris resides with his artist mother, Chungsing (Joan Chen), his college-bound older sister Vivian (Shirley Chen), and his father’s mother Nai Nai (Chang Li Hua, the director’s real grandmother). Chris’s father works in Taiwan and sends money to the family. We never see him.

At school, Chris’s fellow students insultingly call him “Wang-Wang,” which he’s resolved to take in stride in an effort to get along with his peers. He’s willing to do anything to get friends, and is also shameless on how he tries to woo Madi (Mahaela Park)–someone he has a crush on.

The story at times finds the kid adorable, but at times he acts so crude he becomes cringe-worthy.

It tells a familiar story about children of immigrants finding their own way in their adopted country. The talented cast do a good job telling of the joys and horrors of growing up in America.

It also gently reminds us of the early years of YouTube, smartphones, Myspace and the beginning onslaught of social media dominance

It’s a decent immigrant film that is heartfelt.

It played at the Sundance Film Festival.

Sundance - US DRAMATIC