Blue Bayou, Shining A Light On What It Means To Be An “Immigrant”

October 1, 2021

In a few days, a film by the name of Blue Bayou will be getting its theatrical release in the United States. Blue Bayou was one of a couple of films that received awards at the 2021 Deauville Film Festival, and before that, the Cannes Film Festival in July. Directed by Justin Chon, the story follows Antonio LeBlanc (also played by Chon), whose past comes back to haunt him when the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) comes knocking on his door. Here’s what you need to know about the award winning film, and why it’ll be worth the watch.

Why Blue?

There’s a reason why “blue” should stand out, but before we get into that, some context is in order. Antonio LeBlanc was born in Korea and migrated from there to the U.S. through the adoption process. To quote Variety, “he’s as American as the tattooed eagle spreading its wings defiantly across his throat, down to his lived-in Southern drawl acquired over more than three decades.” He’s a family man, who is married to the love of his life and loves a daughter that isn’t his own, with one more on the way that is. Unfortunately, LeBlanc is not a man of means, mostly due to his criminal record holding him back. It is this same sore spot in his history that prompts ICE to begin looking into him. Pair that with LeBlanc’s “faulty paperwork” which was a result of his adopted parents not having him properly processed, the government agency works on trying to deport him once he shows up on their radar. The movie doesn’t just work to unpack the challenges immigrants face in the United States, the director also made sure to lean into other important discussions such as “highlight[ing] the prejudice[s] that [are] endemic to the Asian-American experience” (Variety, 2021). So why is the bayou blue? Well, even though the film doesn’t technically fall under this category, one can argue that it is at its heart a tragedy.

A Close Look At Harsh Truths

Blue Bayou doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the issues it addresses, mainly ICE and immigration. The role ICE plays is an interesting one, as the film tries to illustrate the institution’s potential for being punishing towards immigrants rather than the protector homeland security and public safety. The film aims to bring to light how the “American Dream” can be at times, undermined by the system that can punish people under the misguided notion that they don’t belong here. It’s a concept that runs contradictory to what the United States stands for, yet can find a way to persist nonetheless in institutions like ICE. Chon’s movie looks to tackle these themes head on to strike a chord with audiences, and will endeavor to do so through Antonio LeBlanc’s trials and tribulations. Blue Bayou released in theaters on September 17th, 2021.