The amazing part of this movie is that it deals with deeply serious complex issues, but does so with humor and grace. The screenplay is remarkable and nuanced, but is infused with a comedian's sense of humor that captures the real human comedy that exists in all personal relationships. You will die laughing when Emily's bewildered father turns to Kumail in a hospital cafeteria and asks him, "What do you think of 9/11?" and Kumail responds as a comedian should to such an outrageously stupid question. Ray Romano and Holly Hunter are excellent in the roles of Emily's parents.
While based on a true story, I'm sure parts have been fictionalized to bring the drama and the humor of the events to the screen, but it appears that the basic Romeo & Juliet premise is based on the screen writers' real relationship. The film's ability to balance the deadly serious and the comedic reminds me of the wonderful film 50/50 (2011) which also dealt with a deadly illness with a similar light touch. This beautiful film which deals so well with the complexities of overcoming cultural differences serves as a good anecdote to our charged political climate and especially with the demonization of Islam that has become all too dangerous in this country. I hope it is the breakout comedy hit of the summer when it goes into wide release in July.
Director Nanfu Wang has done a beautiful job of presenting the story of homelessness through microcosm of one man's story. Sadly, we have all learned to dehumanize the homeless just so that we don't start crying each time we see a human being sleeping in the dust on street. This film gives us a chance to gain a better understanding of why people live on the streets. Dylan can help us personify and comprehend a larger problem. I hope this film is gains distribution so that more people are able to share Dylan's story. Additionally, I hope the film is used in schools to educate young people about the experience of homelessness. The level of homelessness in this country is a disgrace and addressing that problem requires educating the public about the underlying issues like mental illness and addiction that are interconnected with homelessness.
The story is described as inspired by true events so there may be some exaggeration in the actual climax, but it is still quite powerful and leaves the audience awestruck. Ana Asensio directed, wrote and stars in this fascinating and absorbing film. It is beautiful written, filmed and acted. The tension builds towards the disturbing climax. The American Dream is not always what it seems to be and needs to be re-imagined for our current economic and political realities. I hope the film gets distributed so more people can learn to empathize with the immigrant experience which has sadly become a political punching bag in recent years.
Unfortunately, it also meanders a bit through different research projects without clearly explaining why the various scientific approaches really matter. While it is a fairly accessible introduction to the subject for a lay person, it seems to go off in too many different tangents. Much of the film is not particularly visually interesting with a lot of shots of scientific talking heads in laboratories. Still, this is an important research which needs to be funded and in a country deeply lacking in scientific knowledge that recently seems to be rejoicing in its own ignorance, the film is quite worthwhile. This important research has a better chance of being properly funded if more Americans at least gain a basic understanding of what fusion is and why it is so important. I hope the film gets distribution so more people can learn about this important research.
Indirectly, this film asks a very deep question about our criminal justice system: Is it supposed to warehouse and punish offenders or is it supposed to rehabilitate them to return to society? If it is the former it is doing so at a very great cost. If it is the latter than we need to invest in programs like this so that we can return these men to as productive members of society. This film shows us what rehabilitation looks like and subtly makes that argument. We need a national conversation about how the criminal justice system is failing and about how we can begin to repair it. We have begun discussing some aspects of this complex problem including reconsidering the "War on Drugs," but we also need to be discussing how to rehabilitate those currently imprisoned as well. I hope that it gains distribution so that a wider audience can see this powerful and compelling film and begin this conversation about the criminal justice system.