It is devastating each time to hear about one deported family after another. The truth is that the immigration system is a heartless and soulless machine that keeps executing the warrant the government greenlighted – keep breaking families into millions of pieces. And by the time they try to get back together, it’s too late.
“Blue Bayou” is an emotional ride, the least I can say. It follows a Korean American man (Justin Chon) who raises his step-daughter Jessie (Sydney Kowalske) with his beautiful wife Kathy (Alicia Vikander), who’s pregnant with the soon to be born baby girl. Antonio LeBlanc is a hardworking family man who wants nothing but the utmost happiness for his family. After an encounter with the police and now issued deportation orders, an adoptee Antonio begins an unequal fight against the system that does not have his best interests at heart.
Written, directed and starred by Justin Chon as Antonio, the film offers the most surreal and beautifully shot scenes that turns the entire film into a compelling piece of art. In Antonio, we all can recognize a genuinely kind person who, sadly, is being haunted by the ghost of his past. An image of a woman trying to drown him in a river breaks Antonio’s heart; and each time he pictures it, he loses himself. It’s so painful for him, he can’t even share it with his wife Kathy.
Alicia Vikander as Kathy is a kind and loving wife who tries to keep the family together as she continues her fight with her ex-husband, Ace (Marc O’Brian), who happens to be a cop. Ace wants to see his daughter Jessie, who refuses to spend time with her father. We don’t know much about Kathy and Ace’s past relationship, but we can imagine it was undoubtedly toxic. On top of that, Ace’s partner, Denny (Emory Cohen) is a racist cop and as hostile as he could get, Thanks to Emory Cohen’s most passionate performance, you will despise Denny with all your heart.
“Blue Bayou” is a timely story about immigration and deportation, ripping a family apart and looking for a loophole in the system to kick more people out of the United States. But this film does much more. Whether you are an emotional person or reserved, can control yourself in any situation or not, the ending scene will leave you devastated and in tears no matter how hard you try to fight it back. There is something in that scene we all can relate to as human beings. Because it’s the scene that captures the moment when something dear to our heart was ripped off, taken away and left damaged on the street for indifferent people to step on as it was a piece of trash when, in reality, is human life.