Knowlton opens with this event and revisits five-year-old Ruby at the conclusion, with the focus in between on Haley, Ann, Jenna and Fang. In her director’s statement, Knowlton accurately notes, “the primary themes … are identity, family adoption, and race.” She records the teenagers at home and on their travels, including Global Girls’ trips to London and Amsterdam and, in a couple cases, back to China. A bit over halfway through its 88 minutes, the film wanders off focus, spending too much time on Haley’s search for her biological mother and father. The diversion presents a touching emotional aspect of Haley’s life, but it means leaving behind more universal concerns for the adopted Chinese girls’ American lives.
For example, we get too few snippets of the daily teasing and questioning by their sometimes insensitive, sometimes caring schoolmates, and we have no in-depth interviews with their friends, certainly an important part of the teenagers’ support network. Similarly, scenes only briefly portray the exceptional achievements of the four: in the athletic arena—superb ice skating and coxing for rowing crew; their musical proficiency—cello, guitar, singing—and their academic standing.
It is gratifying to have meaningful moments with their admirable, extraordinary American families who adopted them, but again I wanted to know much more about their motivations and thoughts on conflicts and challenges. In effect, “Somewhere Between” presents an interesting snapshot but a fairly superficial interrogation given the young women’s articulateness and intelligence that is on display.
“Somewhere Between” screens at Webster University’s Winifred Moore auditorium at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 3rd and Sunday, November 4th only. For information and the current schedule, you may call 314-968-7487 or go to the web at: Webster.edu/filmseries.