I went to see Better Luck Tomorrow
this evening and it was one of the better films about teens and suburbia (true suburbia) that I've seen in a long time. This was always a fairly untapped market in my eyes and was something that, someday, perhaps I'll get the chance to add my own little slant to (since I've spent the majority of my life in suburbia). Writer/Director Justin Lin
has done a fairly good job of setting up the lives that are lead by the upper-middle class children of parents who love them but whose love is from a distance (either physically or emotionally). There wasn't a single shot of a parent in this film and that was truly by design. My parents were always around for my brother and I (though whether we chose to take advantage of that was up to us) but we had friends who rarely saw their parents and who spent most of their time unsupervised and looking to make their own fun. Looking for some way to make their mark on the world.
This film has been highly tauted as an Asian-American breakthrough but I don't care for that assessment. If this film were made with a mostly caucasian cast would they be calling it a White breakthrough? Exactly. Truth is what this film is about. Being true to the characters, the environment, and the world in which they reside. Realistic dialogue and interactions abound and I felt strong connections with almost all of the characters (or facets of them, at least), which put me right into the film. I've known these people. I'm sure most of you have too. You've dated them, lived with them, worked with them, attended classes with them, and called them your friends and enemies. Or you've been them.
The acting was spectacular for a mostly unknown cast (I'd say young but several of the bigger parts were played by people in their late 20's/early 30's) and I was duly impressed. They embodied these characters, heart and soul, and they put it up there on screen for all of us to see.
The camera work and pacing of the film was slow and deliberate but, conversely, the editing was tight and quick in many spots. I thought the pacing worked 85% of the time but that nagging 15% really bugged me. Switching emotional tone and content with such ferocity has a tendency to lose the audience. Especially when you go from happy to sad to angry to happy to melancholy to downright depressing to incredibly upbeat and almost festive. Sure, you can say "That's how life is" and I'll agree with you. However, life usually has weeks of unending boredom and monotony that would make for an incredibly boring movie if it were shown exactly as it was. Which is why I understand picking and choosing the most interesting and exciting parts of "real life" and putting them together for your film. Just try not to pick them, put them on notecards, tack them up to a wall, and throw darts at them in an attempt to find the order that they'll be shown. Just make sure your peaks and valleys have a purpose other than to have peaks and valleys in the script.
All that said, I enjoyed it very much and highly recommend it.
This was my first post to the blog (thanks again to Shroomy
for asking me to take part) and I only wish I had more time lately to not only post more reviews but to give them a more critical and in-depth analysis. Hopefully things will die down and I'll be able to participate on a larger scale in the near future.