Eighteen years old Ethan Mao is a hustler because he was kicked out of the house for being gay. He met Remigio on the street and they become good friends. On Thanksgiving Day, they go back to Ethan's house to get his birth mom's necklace while the family is gone. However, Ethan's family returns unexpectedly and the event rolls into a suspensive hostage situation.
It could have been easily a formula movie with cliché dialogue for a setup like that. However, with the direction of Quentin Lee and impressive performance of the casts, the film is very engaging and articulate throughout. It's touching and moving sometimes, with humor and campiness. Quentin Lee didn't make a gay film, nor an Asian film. He made a film about his characters, and Ethan is happened to be gay and Chinese. The more I know about Ethan, the more I sympathize and care about him. I also deeply moved by the friendship and dedication from Remigio toward Ethan. However, the movie never really explained (successfully) why Remigio is so kind to Ethan from day one. Sometimes, the story is not very convincing. For example, why does the necklace has to be placed in a safe deposit box if nobody in the family seem to care about it except Nathan? If I was in a situation like Nathan is, I would try to get away from the house as soon as I can, even that means leaving without the necklace, but Nathan chose otherwise. Fortunately, the film creates a few interesting characters, including Ethan's step mom, who stole so many scenes in the film.
With weakness of the plot, Ethan Mao is a terrific film. Or should I say, a terrific gay Asian film? Nah. Being gay and Asian is not what the movie is about, leave that to Ethan.