French director Louis Malle seems to have an extraordinary gift to capture the spirit and ethos of American society. As in his earlier “Atlantic City”, this film features a great cast of accomplished actors who are offered the opportunity to develop richly complex characters. A young Vietnamese refugee attempts to find work in a Texas fishing town. His arrival is the catalyst for ugly confrontations between European and Asian Americans. Though the business owners are only too happy to exploit the labour of the refugee community, this creates tension between the Vietnamese and American workers who feel that their livelihood is threatened by immigrant labour. The film unflinchingly potrays the ugliness of racism but it does not resort to reducing people or events to stereotypes. By focusing on the experiences of Asian-Americans, “Alamo Bay” shows how the racist underpinnings of white Southern society affect all human relationships in the country. The outstanding cast includes Ed Harris, Amy Madigan and newcomer Ho Nguyen. The evocative theme music is by Ry Cooder.
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