"Come See The Paradise" is a forgotten gem of a film that takes place during one of the United States' darkest and most shameful times. At the onset of World War II, Japanese-Americans were put into internment camps This injustice lasted for several years. Alan Parker's fictional film takes place before, during and after this time. It tells the story of Jack McGurn (Dennis Quaid), an Irish-American labor organizer who falls in love with Lily Kawamura (Tamlyn Tomita), a young girl who lives with her large family in San Fransisco. Lily's father (Sab Shimono) does not agree with the romance, which forces Jack and Lily to elope in Seattle. Jack gets into some trouble with the law while picketing, and Lily, angry that Jack has not changed his ways since the birth of their daughter, Mini, takes the child back to her family's house. Soon after, Pearl Harbor is bombed, the Kawamuras are shuttled off to various camps (except Mr. Kawamura who is believed to be a traitor), and Jack is forced into the army.
Like many films, "Come See The Paradise" is about the strength of love. The fact that it uses this period as a backdrop sets it apart from the rest. The chemistry between Quaid and Tomita is amazing. Just watch them together when they meet for the first time and they kiss. It's simply stunning. Quaid has rarely been this good, and Tomita is obviously relishing having a lead role. In most of her films she's listed as "(somebody's) wife". Films like this and "The Joy Luck Club" prove that she is one of the most talented and under-used actresses.
Some have complained that this film uses an "American" character to tell the story of a "Japanese" family. As if any non-Japanese audience members would not be able to understand, or relate to, the Japanese family. The Quaid character is called "un-American" because of his labor rights stance. The family is called "un-American" simply because they are of Japanese descent. Even though the children were born in the United States. So what exactly does it mean to be "un-American"?
Side note: this movie has not been released on DVD. I anxiously await that day.
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