Go Back to China (2019)

  • Narrative Feature/Official Selection
  • 96 Minutes/2019/USA
  • Comedy/Drama
  • Director: Emily Ting

Premise: When spoiled rich girl Sasha Li blows through most of her trust fund, she is cut off by her father and forced to go back to China and work for the family toy business.

Who would’ve thought that 2019 would be such a banner year for semi-autobiographical films about Chinese-Americans coming to terms with their cultural differences? First there was Lulu Wang’s fantastic “The Farewell”, and now we have Emily Ting’s “Go Back to China”. The latter is loosely based on Ting’s experience as an heiress to a toy business who has to return to China to work for her father, lest she be disinherited from his fortunes – the film’s scenes in the toy factory were filmed on location in her real-life father’s business. Standing in for Ting is Anna Akana’s Sasha Li, who begins the film partying and half-assing her way through interviews for fashion designer jobs.

Akana plays Sasha with enough charm and likability that it’s easier to forgive the script’s formulaic shortfalls. Sadly though, almost all the aspects of the film are easily predictable and wooden, from the character beats to the plot. What starts out as an interesting way to explore generational and cultural differences about work ethic and family gets bogged down with convoluted details about Sasha’s father Teddy (Richard Ng) and her half sister Carol (Lynn Chen).

The real takeaway that I got from the film is Akana, who could really be an actress to look out for going forward. She is easily the best part of “Go Back to China”; it’s just too bad that the rest of the film around her can’t raise to her level.

Showtimes at HIFF28:

Saturday, Oct. 19 – 10:20am – AMC Traders Point

Buy Tickets Now

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