© Universal Pictures International Germany GmbH

Blue Bayou
U.S.A./Canada 2021

Opening 10 Mar 2022

Directed by: Justin Chon
Writing credits: Justin Chon
Principal actors: Justin Chon, Alicia Vikander, Mark O'Brien, Linh-Dan Pham, Sydney Kowalske

At age three, Antonio LeBlanc (Justin Chon) was adopted from his home country, Korea, to grow up in Louisiana, USA. Thirty years later, he faces deportation because of the lack of US citizenship. He and his wife Kathy (Alicia Vikander) are expecting their first child. He is a helpful stepfather for Kathy’s first child, Jessie. They live on a small income. Naturalization is difficult because of an arrest for a supposed robbery. Antonio is innocent, but policeman Ace (Mark O’Brien) has his own private interests: he was affiliated with Kathy and is the father of Jessie. Should Antonio go to court? Can they afford a lawyer? How will Kathy cope if the family is separated?

This film is excellent, naturally due to the actors (especially Sydney Kowalske who plays Jessie), but also for the topic, based on real-life experiences of adoptees throughout the United States, who face futures in completely unknown worlds of their original birth. The situation improved somewhat with the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, but, still, many over the age of eighteen face deportation. Hopefully a not-yet ratified new law, the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2021, will solve the problem. As a long-term member of the citizenship committee of the Federation of American Women Overseas (FAWCO), I have worked on many US citizenship issues, but was never aware of this problem until I was privileged to view Blue Bayou, which showed at the Cannes Film Festival 2021. The title refers to bayous in the state of Louisiana, which are small lakes or slow-moving streams. Here the bayou represents a magical area of calm, in contrast to the hectic problems of the participants. (Becky Tan)

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