Blue Bayou

Blue Bayou

In Theatres: 
Sep 17, 2021
Running Time: 
119 minutes

Blue Bayou is one of those films that makes you immediately want to look up the filmmaker’s filmography and watch everything that they’ve done. Director and lead actor Justin Chon delivers a film that is uniquely his with a heartfelt and harrowing story about immigration that is impossible to ignore. With stellar performances from both Chon, Alicia Vikander, and the young Sydney Kowalske, Blue Bayou stands out as one of this year’s best films.


Antonio LeBlanc (Chon) is a Korean American who was adopted by a New Orleans family when he was just three years old. Nowadays he works as a tattoo artist living to support his pregnant wife Kathy (Vikander) and her daughter from another man Jesse (Kowalske). As an ex-con, he struggles to find a better paying job. To make matters worse, Kathy’s ex and Jesse’s biological father is a police officer and after one unfortunate run in at the grocery store, Antonio finds himself in ICE custody and facing deportation even though he’s lived in the States for most of his life. As everything starts to fall apart around him, Antonio will do whatever it takes to stay in the country and stay with his family.


Blue Bayou is both heartwarming and heart wrenching as it draws you into its world with its characters. You can instantly tell that Justin Chon has put his heart and soul into the film. As the writer, director, and lead actor, he delivers a powerful triple threat that oozes passion. Antonio is always striving to do his best but life keeps beating him down. The most heartbreaking thing about the film is that his story is based in reality as there are thousands of people who are deported due to discrepancies with their adoption through no fault of their own.


The film isn’t a rollercoaster ride of emotions but more of a freefall. Everything starts up high and up beat, but slowly his world begins to fall around him. It showcases the hardships many Asian Americans and immigrants in general face on a daily basis without resorting to racial stereotypes. I’ll admit Blue Bayou can be devastating to watch so be sure to have tissues handy. It’s one of those films where one viewing is plenty as it’s not one you’re going to want to have many repeat viewings.


My only complaint is that the story begins to meander towards the beginning of its third act as it attempts to wrap up its multiple threads. It eventually finds its footing before delivering a devastating conclusion that will bring tears to your eyes. It might feel a little exploitative on an emotional level to some, but Blue Bayou earns every moment, both happy and sad. The film also shines a spotlight on the whole deportation issue, which is a real problem that is plaguing this country. That alone is worth the price of admission. Before Blue Bayou, Justin Chon was a name I wasn’t familiar with. Now it’s a name I won’t forget.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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