Review: Ms. Purple (2019 LVFF)

Title: Ms. Purple
Rating: NR
Director: Justin Chon
Starring: Tiffanie Chu, Jake Choi, Teddy Lee
Runtime: 1 hr 27 mins

What It Is: Kasie (Chu) is a young woman making ends meet as a karaoke bar hostess in Koreatown. She works the long nights often under the influence, in order to take care of her comatose terminally ill father. When things get hard and the day nurse quits, Kasie resorts to asking for help from her estranged brother, Carey (Lee). The endeavor results in their reconnecting as well as painful memories from their past making an emotional comeback.

What We Think: So this film harbors a luscious emotional depth in its visual translation of the characters’ states of distress and relationships. The colors, the camerawork, the lighting, and the locations perfectly make for a melancholic experience as we follow Kasie and her tribulations, struggling to earn her keep as she is tossed from client to client. It’s distressing to watch; it is the nature of her every day. The acting is pretty keen and even naturalistic for what almost feels like something autobiographical—Chon, an actor himself, is entirely capable of good directing, especially when it comes to the performances. Chu and Lee appear to be newcomers (as far as IMDB can provide) yet bring so much to their roles as siblings. There were moments that were fun because of the fact: their familial banter rings realistically. Overall, it was a slow watch (story-wise) but was also very technically strong in its presentation.

Our Grade: B, It might’ve been a little too slow for me. The pacing in the first act is snappy, then it slowed down tremendously. There were stretches of scenes that felt dragged out or a little cliché. Honestly, I don’t know how much of the second act I’ll be able to recall in a week. Besides the point, the cinematography is delicious and it lent a sweet ending for a heavy and much more memorable third act. I think it will ring truthful and personal for many people as it juggles many a theme, ie, dealing with sick loved ones, familial conflicts, abuse, and sexism. This one may just be the hard-hitting movie you want.

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Chai Simone Written by: