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Cameron Lui


Cameron is a FilmFestivals.com correspondent from Cannes and other festivals around the world. He is our 2019 Sundance correspondent. You can follow his Sundance coverage on Twitter @sundanceblogger.


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"Ms. Purple" - Review from Sundance

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Unique, relatable, tragic yet hopeful. Truly, this was a simple film that was well crafted, blending powerful storytelling with gorgeous cinematography, as it paints LA's Koreatown in such a way that has not really been done before. The story is about a beautiful, once promising, young Korean girl struggling in Los Angeles, supporting her terminally ill father by means of a salacious profession. The call to action occurs as her father's caretaker quits, forcing her to reach out to her estranged brother for help. This allows them to confront the trauma of their childhood while rekindling a bond no sibling should ever lose.

The main character, Kasie, is played by Tiffany Chu. Chu delivers a painful performance that will hopefully land her more roles in the future. Interestingly enough, she was discovered on Facebook but after a performance like this, her days of scrounging facebook for work must be over. She takes us through an emotional journey that is not so much a roller-coaster as much as your first-time snowshoeing. Her performance is painful, it's slow, it's solemn, it's frustrating. She carries her character's scars from scene to scene. During the Q&A, Chu said this role taught her that there are many 'Kasie's" out there that silently move about life with emotional trauma and that even though they may not overtly express this, that it is important to move about life mindfully. Truly, that is the lesson to be learned from the film; you never know what someone may be going through.

Kasie's brother was played by Teddy Lee, a nervous, sad-eyed man that carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. The sibling dynamic was something fresh and brutally relateable. Lee radiates guilt and resentment throughout the entire film. While Kasie bottles her emotions, her brother oozes them, seeps them like gas from a man-hole. His intense sadness only makes his moments of bliss that much more rewarding. The sweet release that a rare smile from Teddy brings is unparalleled and that is simply due to the intensely disturbed nature of his natural form.  

So far, the films in this year's festival have been brutally tragic. I've left theatres really hurting and wondering why life has to be so messed up. Justin Chon, however, had me leaving with a sense of hope and understanding. With so much darkness surrounding the characters, they still manage to grow, and somehow a sense of hope is found. During the Q&A, I got a chance to ask Justin why it's important for him to find hope when tackling such a dark topic matter and he responded simply; "if I let everyone leaving the theatre thinking there's no hope, then what the fuck?"

But, what truly made this film special is Justin Chon's ability to give opportunities to his community. The cast and crew are predominantly Asian-American which is unfortunately uncommon in American cinema currently. However, filmmakers like Justin will surely break this mold. He discovered actors from small corners of Koreatown theatre troupes, to lead actresses on facebook. He actively searches for talent within his community and writes roles that accurately represent them. He is doing one of the single most important jobs in American Film right now and Sundance is an incredible festival for facilitating growth in the industry.

 
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