Nick Yung has a brother whom he adores, and he has Aspbergers. He comes from a seemingly perfect American/Oriental family, but perfection’s not all it’s cracked up to be. On the death of his brother, life starts to unravel and he slowly uncovers the truth that lies just beneath the perfect veneer of his life. Nick conquers his differences and goes on a journey to discover that not only do people keep secrets, but that uncovering those secrets can set you free and make you whole. The acting in this film is terrific, especially from the young man who played Nick so well. It’s a lovely little film that made me smile and cry in all the right places.
When I read a short synopsis of this movie, I was intrigued. Asperger’s Syndrome has become more prevalent in recent years, and seeing it portrayed on film, particularly by someone who does not suffer from it, was quite fascinating and (in this case) well done. I was actually surprised at how well a Twilight-saga-veteran could act; BooBoo Stewart is endearing as Nick, a young man with Asperger’s dealing with the stress of both dealing with his brother (Chaz)’s death and discovering his brother’s secret life. BD Wong plays the difficult but necessary role of the frustrated and grieving parent with a harsh believability, and the motley crew of Chaz’s friends who take Nick in after their friend’s death provide good drama and much needed comic relief. Harry Shum Jr., as Chaz himself, is stunning.
Yes, it is wonderful that the movie shows Asian Americans as an average family dealing with average issues, and it’s nice to see Asian Americans playing Asian Americans, but there are just too many issues to deal with. The brother with problems becomes a gambling whiz because that’s what happens to autistic people in feel-good movies, butif you want to write poker scenes, learn to play poker. And if you want to preach, get a pulpit. White Frog, a film written by mother/daughter team Fabienne Wen and Ellie Wen and directed by Better Luck Tomorrow’s Quentin Lee, skates that thin line all the way until the end without ever managing to go over-sentimentality.
To me this is a story about embracing diversity and make room for the individual to develop within its own limits and wishes. I think that the story has some really good ideas and messages – however I was not blown away by the performance by the actors, or the choices of the film producers regarding scenary, camera angle, sound and so forth. I think it is a movie worth seeing. The real shocker for me here was Posey who I had only known previously as the guy from MTV’s Teen Wolf and with whom I had learned to tolerate his character Scott; however, here he is grounded and there is none of the dramatics I have come to associate him with.