Tuesday, August 25, 2015


This wasn't my Plan A for the evening, but the MBTA had other ideas about me getting to the Coolidge for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - the Red Line, it was not moving very well from Alewife to Park, getting me there with no shot at taking the C line there in time. Not really one to hang around for a later start time, it was basically either this or Sinister 2 twenty minutes later, and with the batteries on both my phone and laptop pretty drained, I opted for the one that got me in, out, and back home to watch baseball quicker.

Turns out to have been a good choice - it's an incredibly warm and upbeat movie, which wasn't unexpected, but the extent to which it was true was a bit of a surprise. You kind of expect a documentary to ask questions, and this one winds up documenting things going well, something that doesn't happen very often.

Kind of weird that its upbeat nature got it paired with a couple of the upcoming religious-themed films, though. Well, maybe not weird, but Sam & Anais have a very human miracle that they don't try to force into meaning anything, which really seems to run counter to what War Room and Captive seem to be trying to sell.


* * * (out of four)
Seen 24 August 2015 in AMC Boston Common #7 (first-run, DCP)

I've noted before that young actresses often have to write something for themselves if they want a good part, but what about when you discover that your own life may be that good part. If you're Samantha Futerman, you start filming within a couple of days and hope that you're making what she and co-director Ryan Miyamoto eventually get: One of the happier documentaries you're likely to see.

Viewers may recall Futerman from roles in Memoirs of a Geisha and 21 and Over (or at least the trailer for the latter, where she had one of the most memorable bits), but it's a YouTube video she made with a friend that makes the friends of Anaïs Bordier take notice. Sam and Anaïs look strikingly similar, and when they discover that both were born in Busan on the same day before being adopted by families in New Jersey and Paris. Within days they're skyping and finding that the resemblance is more than skin-deep. It's enough to convince Sam - now living in Los Angeles - to visit Anaïs in London for her student fashion show in May well before the DNA test is back.

There's not a lot of suspense to that, because just look at them, and that's just fine - the utter delight they show upon discovering each other, both online and in person, is not something where the audience would want to sniff even a chance of contradiction. It's a pure joy that seems almost inexhaustible, aided in large part by how Sam and Anaïs are both cheerful, funny people full of youthful energy. It's a film built to keep a smile on a viewer's face almost constantly, and why manufacture the possibility of it being otherwise in the short term?

It's not a dull, unmodulated joy, though - Futerman makes sure to insert her own nervousness into the opening scenes, when it is really almost entirely from her perspective, but it's when Anaïs is a more active participant that things get more interesting, as the pair display very different feelings toward being adopted. For all that it is pretty easy to tell them apart from the start despite the emphasis on how much they have in common, the later parts of the film when they visit Seoul for a conference of foreign adoptees are perhaps an even richer vein of material as Sam learns to understand Anaïs more and she starts to view herself much less as unwanted rather than the lonely, often angry kid she was described as being.

Full review on EFC.

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