Riceboy Sleeps – TIFF Canada’s Top Ten 2022

Riceboy Sleeps
An emotional mother-son drama.

Riceboy Sleeps – TIFF Canada’s Top Ten 2022

Set in the 90s, a Korean single mother raises her young son in the suburbs of Canada determined to provide a better life for him than the one she left behind.

A Korean immigrant tries to provide a good life for her son in . So-Young () is a Korean woman who moves to Canada to raise her son Dong-Hyun () after the death of her husband. However, Dong-Hyun has trouble adjusting to life in Canada, being bullied at school, with the kids calling him “Riceboy.” Nine years later, So-Young begins seeing her co-worker Simon (), while the teenage Dong-Hyun () slowly grows apart from his mother.

Riceboy Sleeps Synopsis

Riceboy Sleeps is a 1990s-set drama written and directed by Anthony Shim. The film tells the story of a Korean single mother struggling to raise her son in a foreign country. When So-Young receives terrible news, she desperately tries to connect with her son Dong-Hyun before it is too late. This includes taking him to Korea to learn more about his father and rice-farming grandparents.

My Thoughts on Riceboy Sleeps

The end of the first act of Rice Sleeps deeply undercuts the struggles of immigrants raising their kids in Canada, as So-Young has to deal with the thinly-veiled racist response of her son Dong-Hyun's principal after Donh-Hyun lashes out at equally racist bullies. This sets the tone for the rest of the film as Dong-Hyun becomes an angsty teen, increasingly apathetic towards his Korean heritage. This builds towards the emotional third act of the film in Korea, as mother and son finally find common ground with each other.

Trailer for Riceboy Sleeps – TIFF Canada's Top Ten 2022

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.