Better Luck Tomorrow | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Better Luck Tomorrow 

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Wealthy, disaffected Asian-American teenagers in Orange County progress from cheating to theft to murder in this controversial shocker by writer-director Justin Lin. There's something refreshing about the violation of ethnic stereotypes, especially when the stereotype is politically correct and the violation is more than a simple counterstereotype, and Lin clearly wants to make the kids' amorality troubling and difficult to process--not confused and ambivalent, as one reviewer has maintained. He charts the lifestyles of his "Chinese Mafia" without bothering to show us any of their parents, which limits the material somewhat, but his sense of how some of them conspire to get good grades is convincing, and it's telling that the kids being shown, especially the overachieving narrator-hero, wind up seeming much more American than Asian. The performances are strong without calling attention to themselves (which is more than I can say for the occasionally hackneyed use of rock on the sound track). 101 min. Lin will take part in a discussion at the Friday screening. Gene Siskel Film Center, Friday, April 5, 8:15, and Saturday, April 6, 10:15.

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