(director/writer: Mei Makino; cinematographer: Ivy Chiu; editor: Conner Pickens; music: Andrew Zhang; cast: Emma Galbraith (Angie Chen), William Magnuson (Liam), Emily Garrett (Sheryl), Liz Waters (Veronica), KaiChow Lau (Fai); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producers; Matt Stryker/Conner Pickens/Emili Gollahon/Kate Gollahon: Pineapple Field Productions/Amazon; 2021)
“Refreshing coming of age indie dramedy.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Mei Makino is the perceptive female writer/director in her feature debut. It’s a refreshing coming of age indie dramedy, finely executed with an amateur cast. It tells a story of a Chinese-American teenage female protagonist, Angie Chen (Emma Galbraith). The 16-year-old student attends a private Episcopalian school in Galveston, Texas and does not fit in with the mostly white student body. Her parents have divorced and she lives with her white mother. Her Chinese father lives with a Chinese woman, who has a daughter Stanford-bound.
Angie manages to be with the school heartthrob Liam (William Magnuson), as Liam’s girlfriend, Sheryl (Emily Garrett), an Instagram sensation and a devout Catholic, refuses to have sex with him. Angie has no trouble with that, but all he cares about is the sex part of their secret relationship.
In her video diary voice-overs, we hear Angie glibly relate how confused she is about being the token Asian minority student, her vulnerabilities, of being raised in a limited small-town like Galveston and her aspirations to be an artist.
The probing Angie questions her messy life, of being biracial, of having an identity crisis, her inter-cultural hang-ups, her first love, dealing with a family divorce and managing her artistic ambitions.
It’s intelligently conceived, plain-spoken and heart-warming. Though the storyline is not expansive and its budget is small, it gets over for being so realistic and authentic.
REVIEWED ON 5/19/2022 GRADE: B