Sunday, May 16, 2021

Inbetween Girl - 2021 CAAMFest Movie Review

The Movie: In Between Girl

The Director: Mei Makino

The Cast: Emily Garrett, Emma Galbraith, Liz Waters, William Magnuson

The Story: Teen artist Angie Chen turns to secret hook-ups with the heartthrob of her private school after her parents' sudden divorce.

The Interview:

The Review:
There have been countless teen coming of age comedies over the years, some bad, some good, some timeless, and some so dated that even one that are considered classics are full of stereotypes and down right racist caricatures of minority characters. I'm not going to name names but you can probably figure out at least a few of the ones I'm talking about. Enter first time feature director Mei Makino with a self inspired story of her own experience growing up as a mixed race Asian in America and we're finally starting to get the type of representation that has been very much needed in the world of cinema.

One of the things you will discover while watching this movie is how relatable and universal the problems of a teenager can be regardless of gender, ethnicity, where a person might be from, or what type of family environment they are growing up in. That being said, Makino makes sure to show some of the unique problems and issues an Asian American teenager will go through in a culture that still looks at them as foreigners, or model minorities, or even going so far as to objectify them in ways that can be cruel and insulting. As I'm saying this, I want to make sure you don't think this movie is heavy handed and preachy when it comes to race and gender and that type of stuff, this is actually a really fun movie that just happens to tackle some of these topics.

Emma Galbraith plays Angie Chen, the lead character, I am guessing her own life experience has also played a part in bringing the role to life. Like most of the cast and crew, this is Emma's first feature film and I think the lack of experience or polish that someone with a long resume might have actually works in her favor in how she is able to bring Angie to life in such an authentic way. Even though my experience growing up as a Mexican American was vastly different than what we see Angie going through, there are also a lot of moments and experiences that I found very relatable so it was easy to engage with the story.

The story, with everything going on, is authentically funny and it does have a lot of classic teen movie DNA sprinkled throughout so it will feel comfortable while also being something new that you haven't seen before. The production definitely has a grass roots, indie feel to it and I completely mean that as a compliment. It's not overly polished or edited to death, it just feels very natural and authentic. Along with the teen angst, young love, and growing pains that Angie goes through, this is also a movie about family that comes at you from a few different perspectives and I would even say there is a fair amount about mental health thrown in as well. Now that I think about it, there's really a lot packed into a run time that is less than 90 minutes and the whole thing is very nicely paced.

The Verdict:
Inbetween Girl is a genuinely fun coming of age comedy refreshingly told from an Asian American perspective. Definitely a strong debut feature for both director Mei Mikano and star Emma Galbraith.

To keep track of all my reviews and festival coverage please go to: TwoOhSix at CAAMFest 2021.

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