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Adultolescence (2011)

LEA, a young Chinese-American woman, once disowned by her immigrant mother and now struggling to make peace, goes through a painful, sometimes comedic, journey that has her teetering between a breakdown and breakthrough.


Diep Bui (co-director), Vicky Shen (co-director)


Vicky Shen (story), Vicky Shen


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Credited cast:
Jeanne Sakata ... Mrs. May / Mom
Vicky Shen Vicky Shen ... Lea May
Clementine Ngo Anh Clementine Ngo Anh ... Lea May - Ten Years Old
Michael Yama ... Mr. May / Baba
Joe Egender ... Finn
James Huang ... Cousin Mike
Keisuke Hoashi ... Tim Chen / Brother-in-law
Linda Shing Linda Shing ... Wilma May Chen
Janine Venable ... Bryce's Mother
Amanda Rogers Amanda Rogers ... Literary Agent
Abbie Shin Abbie Shin ... Karin May Michaels
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Arian Marie Andrade Arian Marie Andrade ... Little Lea's Best Friend
Anthony Begonia Anthony Begonia ... Piano Accompanist
Tay Blessey ... Student
Dave Brooks Dave Brooks ... Surfer Man


Adultolescence presents the psychological landscape of a first generation Asian-American family, adding elements of selective memory, voyeurism, escapism, and magical realism, all as ingredients that constantly alter the character of a perceived legacy by the youngest daughter, Lea May. The story begins when Lea returns home after a major career disappointment. She is catapulted back into her real but tainted memories of growing up under the scrutiny of her immigrant mother's watchful eye that turns into a silencing but damaging disownment. As she films her present-day family and learns what it means to become an artist, Lea must confront the variations of truth that has led her to her own stagnancy and blame. By turns, she realizes there is no escape, fantasy or otherwise, from the unconditional and almost insufferable love she shares with her mother. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | Family


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User Reviews

A young woman wrestles with the challenges of leaving home... for the second time.
17 September 2014 | by AllianceOfWomenDirectorsSee all my reviews

This is a journalistic-style, home movie shot in the director's childhood home, making it implicitly nostalgic because it has such an unsentimental commitment to the small gap between past and present.

Homecoming is both an unattained goal and always out of reach, but it's Lea May who just won't let the past or present go- the one who keeps digging up people's dirt. She's not investigating. She's not suspecting. Her personality precipitates it: her innocence and indigence make it impossible for her to gloss over, forget about, swallow the not-so-ideal things that seep up through the seams. Yet, when a breakthrough seems eminent, Lea's inability to face her own fears and misplaced blame brings her further away.

Presumably, this is a past and home Lea would have been delighted to shed a few years earlier: Mom making sure he's gotten enough to eat, Mom controlling her sex life, Mom being cynical and critical of her career dreams... and dad being the middle man or mostly absent. Yet, there is a kind of magical thinking where if she sees herself as if she's in a movie, all will turn out well.

In reality, things stay the same inside her parents' home, while outside, Lea finds herself older and always wresting with how she can let go of the past when family is forever? Indie camera-work follows close against the subjects, and there is slight amateur, digital quality appropriate for a movie that sees life as unpolished and constantly improvised. Other older film mediums like Super 8 are also used to give the movie just the sense of nostalgia it needs and helps the audience to follow jumps in not just the subjective time-line, but subjective points-of-view as well, along with filmmaker Vicky Shen's own breezy rhythms.

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English | Mandarin

Release Date:

22 April 2011 (USA) See more »

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