CONFETTI – Review by Lois Alter Mark

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Every once in a while you see a movie that you just know is going to change someone’s life. It’s usually a small, indie film that tells one person’s story so beautifully, it becomes universal and is impossible to get out of your mind. It’s a film you want to champion because you know that, with a large enough audience, it has a better chance of reaching that someone who needs to see it.

Confetti is that kind of movie.

The story begins in a small town in China, where 9-year-old Meimei (Harmonie He) is struggling at school despite the fact that she’s obviously smart, creative and a quick learner. When her American teacher, Tom (George Christopher), diagnoses her with dyslexia – a word her parents are not familiar with but a condition her mother, Lan (Zhu Zhu), understands all too well – the principal basically washes his hands of her, saying they are not equipped to help her.

Those are the same words Lan heard about herself when she was a little girl and she is determined to not subject her daughter to the same fate. Unable to read or write – a secret she continues to keep – Lan’s only option was to become a cleaner. Refusing to give up on her daughter, she tells her husband that she is taking Meimei to New York, where Tom has set them up with Helen (Amy Irving), a wheelchair-bound writer who has reluctantly agreed to give them a place to live in exchange for help around the apartment.

Although nothing is easy for any of them – Lan has to take a low-wage factory job, Meimei is relegated to a special needs class far below her intelligence level, Helen becomes emotionally invested in her new lodgers and loses money and time needed for her work – nevertheless, they persist. And that persistence is life-changing.

Writer-director Ann Hu has taken her own experiences and crafted them into a quietly moving film that packs a deeply emotional wallop.

Watching Meimei, who has so much potential, being dismissed by teachers and school officials who don’t know what to do with her – and thinking of the thousands and thousands of children like her – is heartbreaking.

As the movie points out during the credits, dyslexia affects one in ten people – including a long list of A-listers from Leonardo da Vinci to Albert Einstein to Richard Branson – and we have to get better at recognizing it in children at a young enough age to help them. We need to be their advocates and fight for them to have the resources they need to succeed.

Confetti shows the dramatic difference one person can have on another person’s life simply by caring enough to do something. Audiences are lucky that Ann Hu is one of those people.

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Lois Alter Mark

Lois Alter Mark is an award-winning writer who reviews films on Midlife at the Oasis. A former contributing writer for Entertainment Weekly for more than a decade, she also reviewed films for NickJr.com for many years. She is a member of San Diego Film Critics Society and tweets from @loisaltermark. She writes about travel for USA Today and Forbes.