September 9, 2019  (Web Review)

Good Luck Soup

(2017) 56 min. DVD: $34.95: individuals; $160: public libraries; $320: colleges & universities. DRA. Documentary Educational Resources (www.der.org). Closed captioned.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Filmmaker Matthew Hashiguchi’s documentary, aired on PBS’s America ReFramed series, focuses on his grandmother Eva, who was born and raised in California, but was uprooted as part of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Following the war, she settled in a predominantly white neighborhood in Cleveland. Eva’s children would all marry whites, but their mixed-race offspring often found themselves to be targets of racial slurs when they were growing up. The family was also at the center of Cleveland’s tumultuous controversy over public school busing in the late 1960s and ‘70s, with younger members not always welcomed by either the white or black student bodies. Nonetheless, Eva herself persevered and is now a historian offering local lectures on the Japanese-American experience and the wartime internment. Director Hashiguchi interweaves his own experiences throughout, and his still-percolating unhappiness over his assimilation difficulties often stands in contrast to his grandmother’s outwardly sunny personality and calm relationship with her thorny past. A warm and sometimes disturbing family record, Good Luck Soup offers a compelling look at one Asian-American clan’s still-evolving journey. Extras include additional scenes. Recommended. Aud: C, P. (P. Hall)