10 March 2010

Children of Invention

Written & Directed by: Tze Chun
Full credits at IMDb

Suffering little kids, especially those who lose one or both parents and must depend on the strong, interdependent bond they've developed with each other, are an offensively manipulative narrative device—almost as bad as a murdered dog. So, any movie that centers on such characters has to work extra hard to avoid collapsing into cheap sentimentality. And Children of Invention, the feature debut of writer-director Chun, doesn't work hard enough. Cindy Cheung stars as Elaine Cheng, a single mom hustling in double time in the suburbs outside of Boston to provide for her two children (Michael Chen, moody, and Crystal Chiu, adorable) in the midst of the current economic crisis. She loses the house, and the family is reduced to squatting in a demonstration apartment unit (not unlike Arrested Development's model house); she works a million jobs, from morning to night, while looking for more. Then she disappears, and her kids are left to fend for themselves.

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