Yellow Fever: In Cinemas Now!
Movie Review by Vivienne Bardot
“If you are looking for a cultural experience, go travel”
Yellow Fever was written and directed by Kat Moon, whose inspiration for the film comes from her own experiences as a native New Yorker with an Asian background. Kat Moon is also a producer at Wham Bam Productions.
The main character, Asia Bradford (Jenna Ushkowitz, SAG Award winner for Glee), was born in Korea but adopted at a young age and brought to New York by white American parents.
Asia describes, in a ‘bloggy’, clever way, the feelings of a white girl continually reminded of the “yellow” culture to which she is expected to relate, even though she has never experienced it and, for most of the movie, has no one from that culture to whom she feels attached.
“Bitter Apple” does not give Asia a break. “I get it, I’m yellow!”… White, Yellow… After all, Asia is simply American.
The film depicts this conflict between race and culture, and even though New York is considered the bellwether of America’s “melting pot”, it lacks the capacity to fully integrate its own people, by constantly labeling them by race.
Asia’s search for identity shows how stereotypes can have a negative impact on this search; and her rebellion against these stereotypical assumptions, while remaining true to her values and inner belief that she doesn’t “belong”, for the moment, in either the “white” or “yellow” worlds, is what keeps her search for identity compelling.
An excellent Nahanni Johnstone and Michael Lowry play very well Asia’s adoptive parents. And by adding to the story other stereotypes, Ms. Moon seems to suggest that it does not matter where you are from, societal labeling is constantly a presence in people’s lives.
Finally, the film surprises its viewers with an unlikely friendship between Asia and an old family friend, John Smart (Gilmore Girls’ Scott Patterson), an “old ugly white dude”, American, who has lived in Korea for over a decade and is passionate about the Korean culture.
It’s worth seeing this culturally enriching comedy, which takes us on a journey while asking viewers to consider what should be done so that cultural integration is not just a matter of lip service, sloganeering and street protests.
Rather, true “globalization” is something that should come from within; and in some respects, we are all “outsiders”.
* * *
… is an international red carpet host and magazine contributor. VivienneBardot.com