CAAMFest 36, May 10-24

DVD Review

Children of Invention

January 11, 2010

Directed by Tze Chun

In Tze Chun's feature debut, the Massachusetts native and former TV writer uses a subtle hand to deftly tackle immigration, class, family dynamics and the classic American hustle known as the pyramid scheme. The film follows Raymond and Tina Cheng (Michael Chen and Crystal Chiu in remarkable performances), young siblings who learn to fend for themselves while their ambitious, yet naive single mother tries to earn money after the foreclosure of their home. When she's held by the police for unknowingly participating in an illegal sales scam - on an expired visa - her kids muster up strength without her and use their unsupervised time to hatch moneymaking plans of their own. Raymond and Tina know that money is important even if they don't fully understand why, a heartbreaking mix of innocence and maturity that Chun is able to create beautifully through his visual details and dialogue. Children of Invention is simultaneously delicate and powerful in its representation of a financially strapped Asian American family - seldom seen in film - and their frustrating chase after the American dream.

- Sylvie Kim

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Sylvie Kim

contributing editor & blogger

Sylvie Kim is a contributing editor at Hyphen. She previously served as Hyphen's blog coeditor with erin Khue Ninh, film editor, and blog columnist.

She writes about gender, race, class and privilege in pop culture and media (fun fun fun!) at www.sylvie-kim.com and at SF Weekly's The Exhibitionist blog. Her work has also appeared on Racialicious and Salon.