“Somewhere Between” is a play-it-safe, by-the-numbers kind of documentary — yet somehow it gets under your skin.
By DAVID LEWIS
San Francisco Chronicle
The film profiles four Chinese girls adopted by American parents in the wake of the Beijing government’s one-child policy. We get little sense of the personal struggles that the girls may have encountered in their lives, and their families are barely shown.
Conflict is strenuously avoided at every turn, whether the girls are in their own living room, at school or visiting China, though the premise of the film is fraught with conflict: Young adoptees who are Chinese and American, lost between two identities.
Despite the superficiality of the storytelling, however, there is no denying that “Somewhere Between” is affecting, and the well-spoken, likable girls, particularly Haley and Fang, make it worth our time to invest in the film.
Fang’s story of her abandonment on a city street — and her efforts to help arrange the adoption of a little Chinese girl with cerebral palsy — are unforgettable. And Haley’s unlikely reunion with her birth parents in China is a polite, yet cringe-inducing scene of family dysfunction.
Director Linda Goldstein Knowlton, herself a mother of a Chinese adoptee, rightfully takes the girls’ point of view to tell these stories. Now that these young women are coming of age since the 1979 one-child policy took effect, we’re not left to see just the parents talking.
(At the Tivoli.)