Reviewed at L.A. Independent Film Festival, April 16, 2000. Running time: 100 MIN.
With: Gregory Sullivan, Abraham Lim, Matt Malloy, Soon-Tek Oh, Jim Akman, Emmet Brennan, Joe Michaelski.
Racism in rural America and the different ways two men of color deal with it is the focus of Abraham Lim’s captivating, though sometimes heavy-handed, “Roads and Bridges.” Made on a shoestring, pic succeeds in large part because of its social intelligence and core of well-delineated characters. Film should make the festival rounds, and the support of exec producer Robert Altman may help it gain deserved arthouse exposure, particularly in cities with sizable Asian-American populations.
Producer-director-writer-editor Lim plays Johnson Lee, a Chinese-American man embittered by the prejudice he has experienced during his young life. When the film begins, Lee has been sentenced to time on a redneck-infested Kansas public works road crew. His crime? A peculiar penchant for dodging trains. His only supporter is his immediate supervisor, Daryl Logan (Gregory Sullivan), a middle-aged black man who understands Lee’s rage. But unlike Lee, Logan long ago decided to try to coexist in this sometimes blatantly racist environment. Lim plays Lee as a fascinating character whose anger has turned him mute and socially withdrawn. Lim’s anti-racist message may lack subtlety, but overall “Roads” represents a journey well worth taking.