Review: Go Back to China

Title: Go Back to China
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Emily Ting
Starring: Anna Akana, Richard Ng, Lynn Chen
Runtime: 1 hr 35 mins

What It Is: Sasha Li (Akana) is the daughter of a rich toy factory owner (Ng), partying it up with her girlfriends while struggling to find a job post-fashion-school. When she blows through her 1/2 million dollar trust fund, her stickler, business-minded father offers her an ultimatum: work for his factory in China for a year, or have no trust fund at all. Without a job and determined to continue her and her mother’s support money, Sasha makes the trip to reunite with her estranged family and come to the realization of their workers’ circumstances.

What We Think: Okay: first let me get it out of the way that Anna Akana is unsurprising in that she brings her lovable charm to the film. Despite her being that “rich girl brought back to her roots and is further humbled,” she still brings an immense likability to a character that could have very easily come off as “spoiled” (which, objectively she is) but instead with every onscreen second delivers a wonderful relatability, subtlety, and expression. As someone who can relate with many of the familial relationships and dynamics the protagonist faces, I thought she did an amazing job at bringing that to light and her Youtube channel is absolutely bomb-diggity (be sure to check it out, there’s a lot of really great and diverse content with stunning production value). The film itself was sort of a surprise to me. I’m honestly not too big into these sorts of comedy dramas, but this was all delivered really well. I made Akana’s role of importance clear, but that isn’t to say the rest of the cast pleases in performances that also have heart and cause you to really understand where each are coming from. As the sort of crabby, funny, (at times grating) if not bipolar figurehead of the family, Richard Ng brings a sweetness to his role. Chen does as well, I found her incredibly likable as Sasha’s half-sister stuck with their crazy dad. The story itself, while its origins nothing new and brings a softening predicability, unfolds into a nonetheless interesting family drama that entails so much character. The film clearly cares for its characters and understands their flaws.

Our Grade: B-, This is a nice movie. That’s really simply put, but its just really sweet and all sort of comforting. I can admit I definitely have a leg in the sort of situation presented, many likely can, but the smart and compassionate characters and their determined (if not at times justifiably misjudged) actions and motivations make you fall for them and stay to see how they navigate their way through their collective situation. I can honestly say that I cared about a majority of characters. That makes this film a standout, especially compared to many of its contemporaries. If you like lighter family dramas, especially one that comes from a beautiful and unique setting, it’s safe to say you can find familiarity and home in this lovely Gravitas Ventures picture.

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Author: Chai Simone