Film Review of “Somewhere Between” on NPR

24 Aug

For Chinese-American Adoptees, Matters Of Identity

I was interested in reading about the film “Somewhere Between” and clicked on the link to a review and was deeply disappointed.  I left the link open, and continued on reading the news of the day and favorite blogs.  Having cleared my mind, I returned to re-read the review, hoping I had been wrong in the tone and content.  Sadly, the review read the same, and yet, I wanted to give the writer the benefit of the doubt so I went and read other film reviews she had written.  Listening to the tone and looking at her words in other reviews, I came away with the opinion that she could not leave her role in adoption out of this review.

The opening paragraph states statistics of adoptions from China to the US and the reasons.  The second paragraph has nothing whatsoever to do with the documentary.

Waiting for them at this end was the pent-up parental longing of thousands of infertile couples, single women (and a few single men) and gay and lesbian couples. I was one of those parents-in-waiting, and trust me, by the time I traveled with 11 other families to Guangzhou to pick up our babies, you could have put pet rocks in our laps and we’d have loved them to bits.

The writer goes on to describe in detail the type of parents each of the four girls had who were in the documentary, and reunion of Fang and her parents in China.  Then to me, her bias shows through even stronger.

That aside, all four girls are thoughtful, moving and imaginative on the subject of their split identities. Haley thinks of herself as a “banana,” yellow on the outside, white on the inside. Describing herself as “stuck between two countries,” Fang laments that she’s always trying to compensate for the fact that she was abandoned because she’s a girl.

Watching the tears roll down Fang’s otherwise cheerful face, I wondered whether she’d be this sad if she wasn’t facing a camera. On the plus side, Somewhere Between is refreshingly free of the cloying, one-size-fits-all dogma that sometimes bedevils the adoption community. (I parted company with my chosen adoption listserv when I got tired of hearing about “the holes in all our daughters’ hearts.”)

Finally, in my opinion, her bias is cinched by completing her review of this film by having the last four paragraphs of the review be about her and her daughter, and how her daughter has no issues.

I understand that she is a film critic and works for NPR and is the reason NPR had her do the review.  I think she should have recused herself.  Here are a few links to other film reviews she has written so you can see the difference I saw between them, (or not).

At Home With Warriors, And The Burdens They Carry

A Good Daughter, But A ‘Pariah’ Among Her Own

Edit: 8/25/2012 – Malinda at Adoption Talk also talks about this review that is worth reading.  Another Adoptive Parent Tells Adoptees How They Should Feel


Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Adoption, adoptive parents, biological child


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6 responses to “Film Review of “Somewhere Between” on NPR

  1. Eileen

    August 24, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Ugh. I’m not sure this person would have been a good parent to a pet rock!


  2. Valentine Logar

    August 25, 2012 at 11:45 am

    I think it might be difficult to leave your personal understanding of adoption out. Just as it might be difficult if you were a returning soldier to leave that experience out of a review of war. We always bring our personal experiences, I don’t think we can leave them at the door.


    • TAO

      August 25, 2012 at 12:08 pm

      I agree we bring our personal experiences to who we are in many ways and it is unavoidable. I just think that with anything in our professional life we should also have the ability to say – this is too close have someone else do it this time. That happens in many professions and this is her profession – a film critic. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt – but she could not give an unbiased view of this film and when you read such a short film review – you don’t expect the writer to use a fairly large percentage of that space to devote to her own story.

      She should have recused herself.


  3. zoozig

    August 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Uh, where can we read the icky review? The NY Times review is pretty good on this film. Despite its bias I hope to see it myself.


  4. zoozig

    August 27, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Sorry, I didn’t realize the link was there at the top.



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