starring Whit K. Lee, Katherine Leidlein, Angela Chew, Alfredo de Guzman
written and directed by Justin Chan
by Walter Chaw Justin Chan's Grounded is triggering for me. It opens with a sunny prologue in which William (Whit K. Lee) proposes to longtime girlfriend Mackenzie (Katherine Leidlein). She accepts--with the caveat that he must finally introduce her to his parents (Angela Chew and Alfredo De Guzman) after three years of dating. If that seems like a long time, well, he's Asian-American, and she's happy to say how often she's mistaken for Nicole Kidman. My wife and I share the same racial dynamic with William and Mackenzie, though I had no problem introducing her to my parents, because a large part of me hoped they would disapprove of her and I could complete my divorce from them. I mean, I did care, but I was angry and looking for the fight. I wanted them to present me an ultimatum so I could choose not-them. Grounded made my blood-pressure rise immediately--the ol' fight-or-flight closer to my surfaces than I thought possible after all this time. The danger of films like this lies in how I will struggle to find any distance between it and my exposed nerves; Grounded cleaves so close to the bone I thought about tapping out a few times. I'm glad I stuck with it.