Review: For Izzy

Michelle Ang, Jim Lau, Elizabeth Sung, and Jennifer Soo in For Izzy

For Izzy is a blazing, idiosyncratic, independent film that is made of pieces that don’t belong together – but it works.

Michelle Ang in For Izzy

For Izzy begins with Dede (Michelle Ang) filming herself. Much of the action in the film is people with cameras in their hands filming themselves. We realize Dede is an addict. She’s a lesbian and just broke up with her girlfriend. Her mother, Anna (Elizabeth Sung), comes to L.A. from Hong Kong and the two live together as Dede makes another attempt at rehab.

Next door lives another family from Hong Kong. Peter (Jim Lau) is the caregiver for his autistic daughter Laura (Jennifer Soo). She also talks to a camera to document her life.

Being convincing as an autistic woman is challenging. I thought Jennifer Soo did an excellent job. Michelle Ang was also terrific as Dede.

These four people become entangled in interesting ways. Peter and Anna fall in love but Anna leaves and goes back to Hong Kong when Dede screws up again. Dede takes an interest in Laura and the two spend a great deal of time together.

The relationship develops slowly into a sort of a family unit, but the trip is a rocky one. Dede backslides. Laura has panic attacks and meltdowns.

The unique aspect of the film is the way it’s told. There are sections of animation, of drawing, of rap, of quiet contemplation, of games of Go Fish, and always with a lens in front of someone telling their part of the story. This is not the standard story by an invisible creator that we watch. These people are participating in individual ways in telling their version of what’s happening.

When it began, I thought, “This is crazy. What’s happening?” I kept watching and found that ultimately the story was moving and heartwarming and full of love. If you stick with it, it works. I don’t want to tell you what the title means, because that reveal is saved for the end.

The 2018 film, directed by Alex Chu, is available on Prime Video. It is in English and Cantonese. The main cast is Asian American. It’s good to find another American-made film with a mostly Asian cast.

Poster of For Izzy

The preview gives you a tiny taste of how this film is put together.

Have you seen this film? If not, does it look interesting?

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