Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.
We don’t like to think about it, but everyone, even our closest family members, keep secrets from us. Especially when it comes to sex. Various directors have sought to tackle this topic, and one that, in my opinion, has done so rather well, is JP Chan, whom wrote and directed the subject of today’s post, A Picture Of You. The story of two estranged siblings, Jen and Kyle, clearing out their deceased mother’s house, and discovering some rather raunchy pictures of her, the movie is touching, poignant, and exceptionally well-acted. This latter fact is especially important. See, small indie films like this tend to have miniscule budgets, and therefore depend on their actors to carry the story and make it interesting. Jo Mei and Andrew Pang, whom portray Jen and Kyle respectively, do absolutely superb jobs, showing a wide range of emotions, and really capturing the pain that these people are going through, while remaining very subtle and realistic with their performances. The subtlety and realism are key because, I might not like to admit it but,very often, Asian-American films like The Joy Luck Club and White Frog tend to have slightly over-the top stories and acting. Not here. This film is a perfect work of realism. What I mean by that is, there are no coincidences in the story, no unessential elements, every major character has an ark, every plot thread is tied up by the end of the movie, and there is an obligatory scene where the pro and antagonists confront each other before the climax. These five elements are the defining features of realism, and this film certainly contains all of them. For this reason, as well as the touching story and stellar acting, I would highly recommend this movie to you all. It’s just become available on Netflix, and I would urge you to sit down and watch it.
But, before any of you accuse me of grading this film on a curve because it was written, directed by, and starring Asian people, I would like to make it clear that I do have problems with this movie. For starters, it suffers from what I like to call Return Of The King syndrome. This is when a movie has false endings, points where you think the filmmakers are about to wrap up, but then they decide to keep the story going for another few minutes. I don’t like it when directors do this but, to be fair, the false ending in A Picture Of You doesn’t really detract from the rest of the film, and since it’s not nearly as long as Return Of The King, you don’t really feel like it’s dragging on unnecessarily. The second major problem I had with this movie is that, for a film that’s been advertised as a comedy-drama, with emphasis being placed on comedy, it’s not really that funny. Oh sure, there are jokes sprinkled throughout the story, and I did get a few good chuckles in towards the end, but, for the most part, I thought the humor was a bit awkward. Like, the two main characters, Jen and Kyle, are Chinese-American, and there are several points where they try to make jokes about race and racism that just feel awkward. It’s not even that these jokes are offensive or anything, they just feel kind of forced. When you watch them, you just kind of roll your eyes and say, “Really? Was that necessary?” But, all that said, I don’t really feel like the lack of humor was that big an issue. Yes, this film is supposed to be a comedy drama, and it isn’t that funny, but the drama is so well-handled, the story is so engaging, and the acting is so good, that you can honestly forgive the lack of laughter.
So, again, I would highly recommend this film. It’s touching without being super sappy, it’s well-acted without being melodramatic, and even though it isn’t that funny, it’s still enjoyable as a drama. For that reason, I have decided to give A Picture Of You an 8 out of 10. Like I said before, it’s streaming on Netflix right now. Don’t hesitate to watch it!