January 2, 2020

SCREEN | Koreatown Blues – Justin Chon Colours in 'Ms. Purple'

"You have nothing to offer me."
Tiffany Chu Jake Choi Justin Chon | Ms. Purple

Korean-American actor turned indie filmmaker Justin Chon's third directorial effort continues to wrestle with outsider Asian immigrant themes of family and obligation. The moody Ms. Purple follows estranged Koreatown siblings Kasie and Carey (Tiffany Chu and Teddy Lee) struggling with their emotional wounds as they care for their dying father (James Kang).

Full of subtlety expressed lyrical moments, the low-budget Ms. Purple takes a mature approach to its damaged characters trying to get beyond their shared collective sadness. Unlike Chon's previous work about firey Asian-American anger, he and co-writer Chris Dinh make the downbeat struggles of their characters' abandonment feel much more everyday and understated.

Chu provides such a beautifully poignant performance trying to buck the heartful sex worker archetype as a kept woman subservient to men. Saturated with bright colours, the film captures the neon-soaked Los Angeles nightlife contrasting the sadness of Kasie's emotional restraint. She provides a nuanced arc told through looks and glances.

Simmering with Korean drama and finely subdued but compelling performances and lush monochromatic colours, Ms. Purple shows Chon's continued seriousness as an emerging Los Angeles independent filmmaker. He clearly has so many interesting stories to tell about his community and people.

Ms. Purple is available on various digital platforms and video on demand.


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