In contrast with the high-profile and ostentatious trappings of Everything Everywhere All At Once, which enmeshed the idiosyncrasies of genre with patent identity politics, Kit Zauhar’s survey of contemporary millennial society takes place within the microcosms of locale, character, and affect. Her first feature, the caustic but self-reflexive Actual People, was a study of disconnected youth struggling to both fulfill and reject the cultural labels imposed upon them, following a soon-graduating philosophy senior around the last weeks of college life as she flitted in and out of ennui and desperation, and toward the banality of the working world. Actual People resonated with its audience in part because they saw themselves in the somewhat amorphous character of Riley — played by Zauhar herself — whose professional and personal anxieties were unwoven to an almost cringeworthy, but hardly reductive, extent. The question of racial identity undergirding the film, in addition, posed at the very least some thoughtful questions pertaining to lived, ongoing circumstances: Riley, as an Asian American, seems to order her dating preferences around this essentialist attribute, and her pursuit (with mixed results) of a career not typically grounded in job security or financial stability runs counter to the stereotyped traditionalism of her family.
Published as part of InRO Weekly — Volume 1, Issue 11.