Thursday, September 28, 2017
Set amid the maelstrom of the 1992 L.A. riots, "Gook" takes a hard look at race relations in inner-city Los Angeles. It's a nostalgia-tinged look at the past, as well as a mirror reflecting the similiarties to current times.
Writer/director/star Justin Chon films in a gritty, black-and-white style meant to capture the poverty and despair to suit his tone. He plays a Korean man who owns a downtrodden shoe store along with his brother (David So). Then men befriend a spunky 11-year-old black girl (Simone Baker), who prefers hanging out at the store to going to school.
Once the riots break out amid broiling race relations, the men and girl are thrust into a struggle for survival. The rolling storm of fists, bullets and feet comes rolling toward them, and all three are forced to evaluate their opinions and standing in life.
"Gook" works best in its slow, steady moments, which allow its characters to breathe and help the film's sense of time and place flower to life.
A stirring coming-of-age film that demands to be seen, "Gook" hails the coming of a powerful new voice in indie film.
RATING: 3.5 stars out of 4.