Long after their breakup, Chinese American Raymond Ding and Amerasian Aurora Crane struggle to let go. Torn apart by mismatched ideals, meddling friends, and the complexities of racial ... See full summary »

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(based on the novel "American Knees" by),
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
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Wood Ding
...
Test Driver #1 (as Munda Razooki)
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Carol Saraceno ...
Woman with Dogs
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Jimmy Chan
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Sylvia
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Nathaniel Taylor ...
Test Driver #2 (as Nathaniel H. Taylor)
Yuri Treschuck ...
Amerasian Youth at Bus Stop
...
Steve
Jen Van Epps ...
Rumana (as Jen Brown)
Kayvon Esmaili ...
Brenda's Boyfriend at Party
...
Rumana's Boyfriend
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Storyline

Long after their breakup, Chinese American Raymond Ding and Amerasian Aurora Crane struggle to let go. Torn apart by mismatched ideals, meddling friends, and the complexities of racial identities, they find other suitable mates but cannot stay away from each other. Written by Qfilms@sbcglobal.net

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Some love stories begin with goodbye...

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Comedy | Drama | Romance

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13 March 2006 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?

Connections

Referenced in Popcorn Zen: Episode #2.2 (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Lenore & I
Written by Ron Fountenberry
Performed by Softlights (as the Soft Lightes)
Published by Melissa Ray Music (ASCAP)
Courtesy of Bar None Records
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User Reviews

 
The American Life: Six New Perspectives on Film
17 March 2006 | by (San Francisco) – See all my reviews

Eric Byler, whose low-key, quietly fascinating film opened the S.F. International Asian American Film Festival March 16 in the Castro Theater, may well produce a great movie soon. "Americanese" is not it, but it's a huge step up from his already excellent "Charlotte Sometimes," and it is a work with gripping, unforgettable moments... even if they come rarely during two hours of what may feel like near-tedium to some.

In an interesting, and perhaps significant, coincidence Byler's film appears at the same time with five other new works of Americana: Paul Weitz's "American Dreamz," Nicole Holofcener's "Friends with Money," Sidney Lumet's "Find Me Guilty," Robert Towne's "Ask the Dust," and Wim Wenders' "Don't Come Knocking." As Byler, the other directors are also responsible for their script. As in the case of "Americanese," these films deal with aspects of life in America, but Byler's focus is very different.

Once again, Byler writes (taking Shawn Wong's novel, "American Knees," as his text) about what he knows, who he is: the lives of young (and now, middle aged) people of racially mixed parentage. From the 1915 "Birth of a Nation," Byler says in an essay, American film-makers "have typically approached race issues with stories that involve murder, mob violence, police brutality, and/or exaggerated melodrama." (A statement made even before the arrival of "Crash.") "Americanese" has none of that. It is a slow, thoughtful portrayal of private lives, against the background of many factors, including race. Byler is daring, risk-taking, difficult, in showing ordinary and yet complex characters in ordinary and yet extremely complicated relationships.

The story's protagonist is a divorced, middle-aged history professor (Chris Tashima) with two romantic crises, being unable to let go of a younger ex-girlfriend (Allison Sie), or to take charge of a push-pull relationship with a beautiful, kind, and deeply-scarred and near-unstable Vietnamese refugee, played by Joan Chen.

If three Chinese stars can take over "Geisha," why not have a fourth portray a Vietnamese as well? One's head may be injured by the scratching occasioned in contemplation of this mysterious shortage of talented and attractive actresses in Japan and Vietnam, but nothing can take away from Chen's performance. She is perfect, yielding and pushing away, bewitching and torturing the character played with appealing simplicity by Tashima.

The slow, "naturalistic" development of "Americanese" culminates in a shocking surprise that belies all the apparent resolutions the film's characters achieve, and it does something more. As you leave the theater, the story continues within, and as you think about various sequels to it, suddenly, there is a realization how valid and deep that "surprise" ending was, how it explains some of what went on before. Depth: a hallmark of American cinema? I think not, but of Byler - more so.


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