Writer-director Eric Byler adapted his ensemble comedy drama Americanese from Shawn Wong's best-selling 1995 novel, American Knees. The film, like the novel, dramatizes the seriocomic day-to-day experiences of a number of Asian American immigrants in the City of Angels. At the story's center is milquetoast-dull, middle-aged college professor and divorcé Raymond Ding (Chris Tashima) -- so ineffectual that he barely seems to have control over the events that befall him, and so emotionally distant in his relationship with his live-in lover, the Japanese-American photojournalist Aurora (Allison Sie), that his inaccessibility destroys their union. Forced to move out of their house, Raymond instead rooms with his aging father, Wood (Sab Shimono), making periodic, unannounced visits back to Aurora's home when she is absent. While Aurora kindles her own romance with American Steve (Ben Shenkman), Raymond moves into his own apartment and takes up with Vietnamese-American Betty (Joan Chen) -- a university associate plagued by deep-seated emotional and mental problems.
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