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Sundance Film Festival / Shortcomings : Review / Randall Park Makes a Playful Comedy About Romance and Asian Representation

Ever since the film “Crazy Rich Asians” was a smash hit, the Asian film community has blossomed. New talents have established themselves in the Hollywood industry for the last few years, and now three Asian cast members of “Everything Everywhere All at Once” are nominated for the 2023 Academy Awards.

So it’s appropriate to see “Fresh off the Boat” actor Randall Park, who has taken Asian entertainment power to the next level, to make his first stab at feature filmmaking in “Shortcomings” which is based on the graphic novel of the same name by Adrian Tomine (who also wrote the screenplay). The film had its debut at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Ben Tanaka (Justin H. Min) is an aspiring filmmaker who spends much of his time managing an arthouse movie theater in Burbank rather than exercising his movie-making skills. Though he’s blessed with a mature-minded girlfriend, Miko (Ally Maki), his wandering eye for blonde Caucasian girls slowly disrupts his relationship, which further deteriorates when Miko leaves for an internship in New York.

And despite the warnings of his lesbian best friend Alice (Sherry Cola), he starts going out with Sasha (Debby Ryan), who’s just gotten out of a relationship with another woman. Alice still hasn’t come out yet to her parents so she uses him as her date to fool them.

Ben pursues the blonde of his dreams, All of the male theater employees gush over a new, flaxen-haired worker named Autumn (Tavi Gevinson), a whimsical employee. He has hang ups when it comes to interracial couples. He ruminates over what society assumes about white and Asians dating, especially when gender comes into the mix as to whether an Asian man is dating a white woman or vice versa.

On top of that, his incredibly abrasive personality pushes others away. He slowly realizes that his fantasies aren’t based on reality. And then, without Miko, he has something of an identity crisis while he considers whether she’s still actively in the picture. His toxic behavior slowly corrodes his relationships and progressively isolates from everyone around him.

The film has a colorful and terrific ensemble cast which exhibits stellar chemistry, providing the film with an abundance of personality. The rest of the supporting cast is filled out with Sonoya Mizuno (“Ex Machina”), Timothy Simons (“Veep”), Jacob Batalon (“Spider-Man: No Way Home”) and some fun cameos.

Director Park balances out his very polarizing lead character with subtle humor, some laugh-out-loud moments and an ongoing discussion about race and identity. The film’s explosive mix of egos and Ben’s journey of self-discovery forces his main character to directly confront his own attitude towards those close to him. Park put elements together to bring life to a realistically flawed character. And, thanks to screenwriter Tomine’s nimble script, Park juggles different characters making them multi-dimensional personalities that feel real. By the end, the film addresses certain tropes that resonate not just with Asians but audiences around the globe.

Check out more of Nobuhiro’s article.

Nobuhiro Hosoki
Nobuhiro Hosokihttps://www.cinemadailyus.com
Nobuhiro Hosoki grew up watching American films since he was a kid; he decided to go to the United States thanks to seeing the artistry of Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange.” After graduating from film school, he worked as an assistant director on TV Tokyo’s program called "Morning Satellite" at the New York branch office but he didn’t give up on his interest in cinema. He became a film reporter for via Yahoo Japan News. In that role, he writes news articles, picks out headliners for Yahoo News, as well as interviewing Hollywood film directors, actors, and producers working in the domestic circuit in the USA. He also does production interviews for Japanese distributors of American films and for in-theater on-sale programs. He is now the editor-in-chief of Cinemadailyus.com while continuing his work for Japan.


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