K-Town (2009) – By Josh Samford

Living in the world’s largest racial melting pot, most Americans have become accustomed to the sight of interracial couples. It is a part of our society, and a feature that comes with being such a diverse nation. However, being a part of one of these relationships certainly has its internal and external conflicts. For full disclosure, I have been in a interracial relationship in the past. I am white, she was of Arab descent. While we as a couple never ran into any strange looks in crowds, at least not that I noticed, we did have fairly serious cultural differences that would not let us progress as a couple. For further details, it came down to her parents likely never being able to accept me. Even at a mature age, her parental figures factored into her life a great deal. Such is the case when dealing with conflicting cultures, and our film today does a solid job in presenting these troubles. Told in the mockumentary format, K-Town displays a sarcastic wit that isn’t afraid to tackle many of the most difficult facets of dating someone from a completely different cultural heritage. Although it may not be a conclusive study, nor does it even attempt to be a serious "study" of such relationships, it does offer a whimsical look at a taboo area that rarely receives the concern that it should.

K-Town is a mock documentary that follows three very different Asian-based interracial couples. The first of the three follows Michael, a white ESL teacher, who met one of his students, Keiko, and has had talks about marrying her in order to help her acquire a greencard. The second couple is a reverse of the previous. We meet Johnny, a Asian male, who is dating Alex, a white woman. Johnny has taken over as the man of the house, while Alex attempts to find her role in life as a singer/cook. The third couple we meet is made up of Renee, a Asian woman studying in law school, and Steve, a African American male attempting to make it as a independent filmmaker. While these couples attack their daily problems, they are documented by a film crew who begin to step over their journalistic boundaries. With each couple having dirt dug up on them, will these couples manage to survive the added trials and tribulations that they will endure?

I will give credit to the feature, it does tackle a very difficult subject. Asian men and women have become rather fetishized within American society, and the stereotypes have unfortunately become dominant within our culture. Asian women, for example, are treated as a exotic fruit. White and black males often place Asian women on a pedestal that is above all other races. I have personally seen this sort of fetishism towards race in the past, and some people seemingly refuse to date anyone from their own ethnicity due to this overwhelming lust towards a single ethnicity. Asian men have unfortunately been given a rather fiendish sexual stereotype, unfortunately. Despite polls (I swear that’s not a pun) coming back saying that most women disagree, there’s still a stereotype going around about the "size" of Asian males. Still, there are some women from other races who have become as obsessed with Asian males as those who have fetishized Asian females. It seems that when a person becomes so attracted to someone else because of a few external traits, they are in essence giving full control to their sexual cravings rather than searching for the person who best compliments them as a person. In its rawest essence, this is also what K-Town looks to espouse. A rather simplistic message, to be sure, but these are emotional areas that are far from being simple in any fashion.

The film establishes itself as a mockumentary from its introduction where we first meet the over-the-top group WWAASOM (White Women Against Asians Stealing Our Men), but as soon as the movie picks up with the main "couples," it becomes more realistic and engaging. The very best moments from K-Town are when the lines between reality and fiction become blurred. The performances are actually very solid for a project as low budget as this one. Some of the actors and actresses do manage to come off as realistic, which is one of the largest hurdles for projects such as this. Although the movie has a bad habit of delving into the outlandish, when the actors play things in a slightly more subtle manner the performances are quite well done. The interview segments are usually the best moments, and the obvious improvisations are the points where the movie tends to shine. The character of Johnny (Keiko’s boyfriend) is perhaps the most over-the-top of the main cast members, but even he has his moments that shine through. The actors are obviously quite talented, and this becomes easy to see when audiences endure the painful scenes of embarrassment that pop up throughout the movie. Awkward situations, such as a disapproving parent meeting their daughter’s boyfriend, pop up throughout the movie, and these moments completely destroy the audience with nervous laughter.

Although it is far from perfect, I found myself having a great time with K-Town. A darkly humorous feature that elicits several belly laughs, I believe it shows a great deal of promise from the young director. With constructive criticism in mind, I would say only that the filmmakers are at their best when they don’t try as hard. The "short film" sequences, that show the character of Steve in what are supposed to be very low budget movies, seem to be a bit extravagant for a movie like this one. Instead, the small character moments tend to be the ones that remain quotable and fun. Still, for those who have the opportunity to check this film out, I certainly recommend that they do so. Director Steve Royall shows room for growth, but he also shows a tremendous amount of promise. You can read more about the film via its IMDB page.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1563572