A M E R I C A N e s e
Based on the novel by Shawn Wong
Screenplay/director: Eric Byler (charlotte
Producer: Lisa Onodera (Picture Bride,
The Debut, TRE)
Cast: Chris Tashima
Michael Paul Chan
Raymond Ding is
not young. He's been married before.
He is the only Asian man Aurora Crane has
and, she fears, the only man she has ever loved.
Three months ago, she told him she was moving out of
the apartment they shared for two years. He quietly left instead.
Although Aurora is Hapa (half Asian),
she moves most
comfortably in the white world. So it's back to the familiar as she
quickly tumbles into a new romantic involvement -- this time with someone
her own age, someone white, someone she could bring home
to meet the folks. If only she could do something about her dreams....
Raymond and Aurora still dream
about each other --
sensually haunting dreams that inspire longing in their
waking hours, and the fear of mishandled fate.
Each night Aurora alters or removes
something in the
apartment in an attempt to purge Raymond from her psyche.
The furniture is re-arranged on a weekly basis. And then there are the
photographs and keepsakes, emotional heavyweights, finding
their slow way into a box in the bedroom closet.
Raymond is the only witness to
He visits the apartment when he knows Aurora is not home. He
reads the newspaper, eats his lunch, then checks for
any subtle changes. He is careful not to leave a trace, but
Aurora sometimes senses his unseen presence.
She knows he still has the key.
Aurora travels home to the Midwest
and discovers for the
first time her beloved father's subtle racism,
even as she considers a future with her "perfect" boyfriend,
Raymond finds himself suddenly in love with a beautiful
and somber Vietnamese American woman, Betty.
Raymond's widowed father, Wood, plans a
trip to China to
find a picture bride because he doesn't want to grow old alone.
Aurora's friend Brenda rejects Asian men
as lovers, seeking refuge
in a series of unfufilling sexual liasons with non-Asian men.
Raymond's friend Jimmy cheats on his wife
with a white woman half his age.
And Raymond and Aurora meet "for the last time" several times.
Set in modern-day San Francisco,
Americanese is a penetrating
anti-romance, filled with lush, dreamlike imagery and
sharply realized emotions. It tells this story of two lovers perhaps
to be together, bewildered as they hopelessly drift apart.
Director Eric Byler's celebrated eye for the cinematic
invites the audience to unravel, in flashbacks, in private ruminations,
and in infrequent encounters, the mystery of an Asian American love
The meaning of Raymond and Aurora's love, and the truth behind
their breakup, are revealed in its aftermath - just as scientists learn
about the birth of the universe by studying the reverberation of its