Skip to main content
The Independent Critic

Esther Moon, Jeannine Vargas, Jacky Jung, James Kang, Dave Huber
Christina YR Lim
100 Mins.

 Movie Review: B-Side: for Taylor 
Add to favorites

There's a vibrant heart inside Christina YR Lim's feature coming-of-age dramedy B-Side: For Taylor, a messy but well-meaning film inspired by Lim's own experiences yet telling its own distinct, engaging story. 

B-Side centers around Taylor (Jeannine Vargas), a 14-year-old Korean-American adoptee whose adoptive mother has recently passed away leaving Taylor with an adoptive father, Bill (Dave Huber), with whom her relationship is strained and with a growing curiosity for the culture into which she has born and about which she knows very little. 

Lim came to the states at the age of four with her mother and brother, a move that detached her from the world she grew up in and her birth father and a move that placed into her life a Caucasian stepfather who raised her from the age of eight. Like Taylor, Lim struggled to find that balance between acknowledging the culture of her roots and appreciating the life she now had. 

While B-Side: For Taylor is most certainly a coming-of-age story, the film finds its most substantial meaning in the importance of Taylor's actual search. Lim tries a bit too hard to expand the story here, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, but there's little denying that this is an emotionally resonant and meaningful film. 

Experiencing bullying in the school setting courtesy of Kyle (Dexter Farren Haag), Taylor finds hope in the neighborhood arrival of Da-Young (Jacky Jung) and her mother Areum (Esther Moon). B-Side is at its best when it focuses on the easy, believable relationship between Taylor and Da-Young mostly because both Vargas and Jung are also the film's highlights. 

At times, B-Side plays like an afterschool special. Admittedly, I was always a fan of the old afterschool specials and their simple yet poignant storytelling and relevant life lessons. For the most part, B-Side plays out how you expect but does so in a way that is rather sweet and good-hearted. I would expect that those who've grown up in similar circumstances, and there are many, will find much to love with B-Side. 

Even in those moments when you feel like B-Side could start demonizing certain characters, Lim avoids that easy alternative. Instead, B-Side becomes a film about letting go of thelife and person you thought you were meant to be and allowing yourself to embrace the person you are. Lim acknowledges the honesty and authenticity of exploring one's deepest and darkest spaces yet also chooses hopefulness and the belief that even our deepest voids can become a catalyst for resilience and growth. Lim never minimizes the challenges, Lim ultimately honors the unique relationship between a surrogate parent and a child. B-Side feels personal because it is personal. 

B-Side: For Taylor doesn't quite always hit its cinematic mark, however, even when it misses it does so with such genuineness and sincerity that it's nearly impossible to not appreciate Lim's effective storytelling and absolute heart. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic