AUGUST 20TH, 2021
STARRING: ZHU ZHU, AMY IRVING, HARMONIE HE, HELEN SLATER
DIRECTED BY: ANN HU
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
The kind of movie that Confetti is, is both refreshing and disappointing. The refreshing side is that it has a simplicity, a gentle touch to it that not enough movies have these days. The disappointing part is that there’s not much of a story here, which is about a Chinese girl, who’s mother decides to bring her from China to America to get the help she needs with dyslexia. A major chunk of this narrative plays like an after school special or a Hallmark Channel movie, dedicated to helping the world see children through a lens of their differences. Depending on your cynicism or need for an uplifting story will assist in your views of the film. The intentions are good from director Ann Hu and the cast is game to tell this light tale, about what a mother would do to help her child, which is what makes Confetti a nice movie. Not breaking the mold, not worthy of scorn, or disgust. Just a nice movie and for me that was enough.
The family is the mother Lan (Zhu Zhu), the father Chen (Yanan Li), and their daughter Meimei (Harmonie He). They are a middle class Chinese family, where mom and dad work dead end jobs to keep Meimei in school, but it’s soon revealed that Meimei is struggling in class, and her classmates feel she is weird. Kids picking on another class member is expected, but the reasoning behind it is that Meimei struggles to read words on the chalkboard. The only American teacher in the school- Mr. Thomas McClellan (George C. Tronsrue) notices that it’s not that Meimei is not smart enough to learn how to read, it’s that she sees things differently. The diagnosis is dyslexia, but to Lan and Chen’s surprise, their school does not offer any special form of curriculum for a student with a learning disability. The way they view it? Your kid is different, so deal with it.
This result is not something that Lan will sit around and accept. The bold decision is to leave Chen back home, with the help of Mr. McClellan’s connections, Lan decides to take Meimei to America, New York city. They are put up with Mr. McClellan’s mother Helen (Amy Irving), who is confined to a wheelchair, an uncomfortable scenario, with a language barrier, and opposite personalities, now these two sides must come together to find the best school, the best help that Meimei can get.
What Confetti could have used is a bit more conflict, a bit more depth in the details of this new living situation, and allow the audience to make a deeper connection with the characters. What writer/director Ann Hu decides to focus on is the journey for Lan in America and the process it takes her to get Meimei in the proper and financially possible school. That is something, where the topic of dyslexia is undoubtedly an issue that needs to be talked about more, and literacy should always be a focal point in education. But Confetti is at its best when all the characters, their personalities, and the barriers that hold them back become involved. Amy Irving’s character Helen has the most depth, also delivering the best performance, but she’s underutilized. She’s a writer, her life stuck in a wheelchair due to a tragic accident that resulted in the loss of her son. When Helen connects with Lan, when Meimei steps in and proves her brilliance, and when we see the conflict created in the distance of Chen in China, that is how Confetti becomes a sweet experience.
The ultimate conflict of Confetti is that it’s not a sexy movie to recommend. You need to be in a certain mood to watch a story about a woman going to America to support her daughter’s struggles with dyslexia. There’s nothing thrilling, there are some sweet moments of interaction with characters, it’s not a tearjerker, and it still tells a nice story about a different side of the immigrant experience. Confetti is a nice film from director Ann Hu. If it succeeds at two things, it’s a revival for Amy Irving’s career and a reminder to always understand the experiences that each individual is going through. Life is not always a party.
CONFETTI IS IN SELECT THEATERS AND CHICAGO’S AMC RIVER EAST THIS FRIDAY AUGUST 20TH
2 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady