Film Review: Pretty Rosebud

By Kevin Young

Pretty Rosebud, directed by Oscar Torre who also stars in the movie, entails the tale of the Filipina, Cissy Santos’s (Chuti Tiu) “perfect” life, or the life that others believe she has.

Cissy a loving wife to her husband, Phil, (Kipp Shiotani) and daughter to a strict traditional Filipino family becomes dissatisfied of her tedious mundane life. Cissy, a workaholic often deals with her father’s disapproval of Phil for being unemployed for two years, in addition to Phil not attending church with the family. On Phil’s side of the family, Cissy receives criticism from her mother-in-law for not bearing children. Cissy is even embarrassed herself that her husband does absolutely nothing and is lusting to have physical contact with him that he never provides. To intensify Cissy’s dilemma at work, Cissy has to deal with constant pressure from her boss to get everything done by a deadline.

To relieve stress she releases her sexual urges on her boxing trainer, Alejandro (Oscar Torre). Initially Cissy feels disgusted with herself for becoming an adulterous yet as her marriage starts to fall apart, she shows no remorse. She continues to have numerous sexual relations with Alejandro and even starts to have them with fellow co-workers.

As this is going on, Cissy is forced to constantly listen to her father, (Dana Lee) preach about how glorious god is and how couples should never get divorced under any circumstances.

Cissy’s brother, Jun (James Kyson Lee from Heroes), is revealed to be the rebellious and unfavorable child because he often clashes with their father. Jun happens to be marrying Candace, who divorced once and who isn’t from Asian decent infuriates their father.

After separating from her husband and living with her parents Cissy starts to discover her true identity. Cissy, herself follows in her brother’s lead once she discovers that her father cheated on her beloved mother who she often confines in. Cissy reprimands her father, quits her cherished job, and is seen contemplating suicide as she runs headstrong into the roaring ocean.

This film helps establish the Asian American stereotypes of Asian Americans being clean-cut and zealously religious. Do Asian Americans continue to live up to their parent’s expectations or do they move forward and invent their own identity?

Cissy’s identity crisis shows a striking contrast from these stereotypical norms. Tiu delivers a stellar performance accurately depicting conflicts Asian Americans face. Tiu portrays a different side of Asian Americans. Imperfection and having a dark side are indeed part of being Asian American too. Cissy finally breaks away from her mold as the “ideal” Asian and is finally able to accept herself.

Perhaps the message of Pretty Rosebud, is that Asian Americans are very complex and cannot adhere to stereotypes and to establish divorces are now saturated into American culture.

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