Growing up fatherless in the middle of nowhere, USA, is bad enough. But when you’re Ernest, a chubby 13-year-old Asian-American, you’re stuck cleaning the sheets that have been spoiled by strangers nightly. Living in a sleazy motel with his dragon lady of a mother and teased by the kids in town, his coming-of-age is less a rite and more an excuse to get out of Dodge.
Enter Sam (Sung Kang, Better Luck Tomorrow) – a Korean American with a taste for female ethnic diversity and the odd boozing habit. An unlikely friendship is struck, and suddenly Ernest is propelled into manhood via a host of ill-conceived ideas, including a carpe diem moment with his crush, a no-nonsense waitress at the nearby Chinese restaurant.
But no matter how badly planned the duo’s misadventures may be, Ernest’s disarming innocence betrays a desperate sense of longing. And it is this beguiling charm that carries through to the very end, along with moments of genuine hilarity and pathos. Propped by ace performances by the young cast members, The Motel offers an authentic look at a complex childhood of a minority, shedding light on the awkward moments that build us up to who we are. Michael Kang’s self-assured direction already earned the film The Humanitas Prize in the Sundance Feature Film Category, putting it in the same category as the acclaimed Whale Rider and Love & Basketball.
Director: Linda Lee | Canada 2004 | 7:00 | Video | Toronto Premiere
Acting is not an easy career … especially when you’re an ethnic minority. With sharp humour and quick-witted irony, Screen Test reveals how one actress survives in the cut-throat business of film entertainment.