Facades fall away when everyday family life is hijacked by extreme situations. This genre-busting film blends drama, thriller and romance into a singular coming-of-age journey for the titular character. Newcoming Jun Hee Lee's innocent face and straightforward portrayal help illuminate a troubled adolescent buffeted by life's storms.
Eighteen-year-old Ethan Mao's life starts to spin out of control following back-to-back traumatic events: an attempted robbery at the family restaurant and his father's discovery that Ethan is gay. Out on his own, he leads a hustler's sketchy life until he meets another street kid, Remigio, who offers sanctuary. Ethan later convinces Remigio to take him home to collect some belongings, including a necklace that belonged to his deceased mother. When his family returns unexpectedly, a hostage situation results in confrontations and revelations for all concerned.
Writer/director Quentin Lee (SHOPPING FOR FANGS) draws on influences from Thomas Hardy to Gus Van Sant to craft a story thoroughly modern in its examination of one gay Asian's teenager's struggle to claim his place in life. Using subtle shifts in sound an music, a voyeuristic camera and unexpected narrative jump cuts, Lee subtly frames the disorienting world of ETHAN MAO.