With the new deportation drama “Blue Bayou,” Justin Chon and Alicia Vikander explore a legal loophole that horrified them.
The film tells the story of a Korean-born man who faces deportation from the United States, despite being adopted by an American family when he was 3.
Chon wrote and directed the movie, and also stars as Antonio LeBlanc, who’s expecting a child with his wife, played by Vikander, when he’s confronted by a racist police officer.
“I found out about this issue around 2016, that adoptees were being deported, and I just really felt emotionally connected,” Chon told the Daily News. “The idea of international adoption originated from Korea, and I have quite a bit of Korean adoptee friends. The thought that you could be brought over to this country by U.S. citizens, and then 30 years later find out that you’re not ... sounds absolutely ludicrous.”
International adoptions began in 1955, when Henry and Bertha Holt, an evangelical couple from rural Oregon, secured a special act of Congress enabling them to adopt Korean “war orphans.” Adoptees are now protected under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, but the law didn’t retroactively grant citizenship to adults already living in the U.S. at that time.
“Blue Bayou,” now in theaters, aims to put a face to the issue.
“There’s a lot of these stories, and I couldn’t understand that this was legally doable, that any functioning society could actually go ahead and kick somebody out,” Vikander told The News. “If anything, I hope that these people will in some way find a way back.”
Set in rural Louisiana, the film depicts Vikander’s Kathy as the mother of a young girl from a previous relationship with a cop who walked out on them.
Her ex’s police partner brutalizes and arrests Chon’s character after an encounter at a grocery store, beginning the process for him to be deported.
The Swedish-born Vikander, who won an Oscar for “The Danish Girl” and played Lara Croft in 2018′s “Tomb Raider,” says her new movie has “an important story to tell.”