Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Happy Cleaners (2019) closes the Asian American International Film Festival August 3

I’m not going to give a full review to Happy Cleaners. I’m doing this not because there is anything wrong with it, there isn’t. Rather I am going to keep this short and sweet because there was a point where I suddenly realized that this film was speaking to a greater truth outside of my experience. Yes, I could appreciate the story, and the acting and the technical aspects of the film, but the greater truth, about the generational divide of the immigrant experience in America was outside of my reach. I could see it and understand it but I could not connect to it the way I would have had I been the son of immigrants who struggled to make a life in a new country.

Happy Cleaners is the story of the Korean family living in Flushing Queens. Mom and Dad, immigrants from Korea, run a dry cleaning service which is faltering through no real fault of their own. The kids are trying to make their way in America, the only country they know. The clashing of old and new worlds leads to loving conflict in the family.

A sweet, at times bittersweet, family drama Happy Cleaners has been bouncing around the festival schedules for a couple of months and I completely understand why. A loving portrait of the struggles within a family that loves each other but whose members have differing view points. This is a film that has a glorious lived in quality. It’s a quality that comes not just from the people behind the cameras having lived the story but those in front . Everything in his film is nigh on perfect with the result is a film that will leave you moved.

Highly recommended Happy Cleaners is the Closing Night film of the Asian American International Film Festival.

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