pangarap: a yellow rose film review

For Asian American Pacific Heritage Month, here is a YELLOW ROSE film review from a Texan-Filipina woman’s perspective.

Hello asienne!
It’s your girl, Bea!! How is everyone? I was definitely thinking of doing a video review but seeing as that I have Dina (my current pimple) visiting me this week, I thought a written review would be better to save me from embarrassment.

In the beginning of YELLOW ROSE, there’s a scene where Rose is getting ready for bed and she goes to the mirror and looks at herself. Then, she does something that hit…hit hard. She pulled her eyelids back to make her eyes bigger and I think I almost started crying seeing that. Looking at yourself in the mirror and thinking ‘What if this was different? What if I looked like this? What if my eyes were bigger? Would I fit in?‘ Watching that scene was such a stark reminder of the kind of insecurities I used to have. I related to that so much and I hope that my children who will be second to fourth generation Americans will never have to do that.

As a Filipina immigrant in the States who was Texas-raised, I think it’s pretty amazing how this movie was even made. Not to throw a pity party here, but the Filipino immigrant story is rarely told in popular media, let alone by an American film studio. So, yes, it was a pleasant surprise to hear that a film such as this was being produced. Going into it I didn’t really know what to expect. I was very curious as to how this very true narrative would be played across the screen. I was also excited to see how the Texas culture would be represented on screen, especially from the perspective of a young Filipina!

Here are some of my thoughts:

The Music and Soundtrack:

I think the film did a great job with many things but my absolute favorite thing was the music. The original soundtrack for the film consists of 17 tracks, with a majority being ambient music for the film. But the tracks that captured me from the very beginning are songs performed by the actors themselves: “Square Peg” and “Quietly Into the Night”. There’s just something about these two songs. Perhaps it’s because that familiar country sound I grew up listening to somehow brings me back to all of those summer nights when I’d roll down my window and stick my head out the car to catch the wind while my dad would be driving down those Texas roads. Or perhaps, it’s because both songs carefully articulate how hard it truly is for an immigrant to find a home and fit in.

The Acting:

The acting was great and just right for the story. I think the one thing that stuck out to me – as a former theatre kid in school – was that there were some acting parts where I could see it was theatre acting. If you ever did theatre, you’d know exactly what I mean. In theatre, your whole body is your instrument. The emotions show through every movement and lack of movement. But in film, I think there’s your acting space and then there’s the camera. The camera and angles play a much bigger role because they serve as the eyes for the audience. In YELLOW ROSE, I think there was a lot of theatre influence which would make sense since both Eva Noblezada (Rose) and Lea Salonga hail from Broadway.

The Directing:

Building on this, I think the directing and writing by Diane Paragas was really well done.

Anytime an artist is able to cohesively put together – pen to paper – a burden on their heart and is able to express it to the world, by telling a story and provoking the audience to feel a certain way is amazing and beautiful in its own right.

And I think Paragas does exactly this. The story helps us to get even just a glimpse of the hardship of immigrants. It humanizes this controversy where there are levels the general audience may not understand, but the human element is magnified to remind all of us that at the end of the day, people just want safety, security and a place to belong.

The Plot:

If you’re sitting there and reading this, thinking, ‘OK, that’s great, Bea, but will I be able to relate to this story?‘ To be honest, I think yes, in some way. You might not be experiencing (or not have experienced) the extreme, and devastating situations Rose goes through in the movie, but maybe you can relate to her upbringing and thoughts on being different in a land where many are the same.

As for the things I couldn’t personally relate to, it would be Rose’s legal situation and being torn apart from her mother. Even though it’s not my story, it still saddens me how this is unfortunately a reality in our world today.

As for the things I wasn’t such a fan of, it’s very minimal. I’m not really one to give bad reviews for films but I wish there was more story and character development. Let me elaborate. I know films are obviously limited by time and many other factors, but I would have definitely liked to see more of the relationship between Rose and her aunt (played by Lea Salonga). And without giving too much away, the film kind of felt like it ended a little too soon. But in some way – if this was on purpose – I could see this adding to the plight of the uncertainty in the life of an immigrant, especially in the case of a child of an illegal immigrant.

And for that, I’m thankful for Paragas and her courage to put this message out there.

Lastly, it really was a dream come true to see this story on the silver screen of someone who looked like me – who also listened, played, and sang the music I listened to growing up – and even more so lived in the land I call home. I’m thankful it’s here.

If you’re interested in writing and submitting something like this – a review about a (new) film with an Asian American womxn lead, click here or check out the Contact page above for more details.

Edrianne, known by her family and friends as Bea (Beh-yah), is the ultimate Holy Spirit-chasing, cinema-theatre fanatic, dame traveler, food-enthusiast, and a regular ocean and mountain goer. She’s proud to carry Filipino blood under her skin, an American flag on her back and the Texas flag in her hand. Bea considers being a third culture kid an honor, which was never an easy thing; but now sees it to be a specific skills set for relating to people from different walks of life. Currently in her 20’s, Bea has lived in 4 different countries and is currently stationed in South Korea.

Connect with Bea on her socials:

Instagram: @edrianne_wood | Facebook: Edrianne Wood

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