The first-ever feature from the Marshall Islands, “Morning Comes So Soon” overcomes technical shortcomings and unrefined non-pro perfs with strong storytelling and an incisive look at youth issues in the Pacific island republic. A Romeo-and-Juliet tale about a local boy and a Chinese girl, this community project, helmed by American volunteer teachers Aaron Condon and Mike Cruz, rings true and is worthy of fest attention. Pic has done sellout biz since its May local release and has helped open up local discussion on racism and the country’s alarmingly high teen suicide rate.
Defying his friends who dislike the large number of Chinese who’ve settled in the Marshall Islands since the late ’90s, high school senior Leban (James Bing III) takes a shine to Mei-lin (Lin Ting-yu), a shopkeeper’s daughter. Love soon blossoms, but bonds are severely tested by violent reaction at the school dance and the trashing of Mei-lin’s shop. Even-handedly presenting views from both sides of the cultural divide, pic follows the romance’s tragic conclusion with a poetic and optimistic epilogue. Camerawork is rough, but emotional impact is strong. A great collection of songs stands out in a basic tech package.