Mardi Gras Film Festival 2023 Review: Golden Delicious ★★★

Basketball, teen angst, social media, and family drama combine in Golden Delicious, a tale of an Asian-Canadian high schooler dealing with the claustrophobic impact of everyone else’s expectations.

Jake (Cardi Wong) is a good kid with a sweet girlfriend in Vancouver whose parents run a local Chinese restaurant. But the pressure is mounting. Nearing graduation, he has college applications to think about, his father is pushing him to make the basketball team, and his girlfriend wants them to finally have sex. While he’s got a picture perfect social media life, he can’t help but feel unsatisfied. When a new, openly gay student, Aleks (Chris Carson), moves in across the street the attraction is obvious. 

What plays out over the next two hours hits a lot of the familiar beats. Classic coming out narrative moments and high school tropes are topped off with family drama as Jake’s parents bicker and fray. As his demanding father (Ryan Mah) pushes the family harder and harder it’s not just Jake who buckles. The pressure of being a gay kid in an immigrant family has been fodder for queer dramas for a while now as the “second generation immigrant” twist has been used to add further nuance to coming out tales. Golden Delicious takes all these elements and gives them a gentle stir to produce a sweet, undemanding film with charming performances.

Wong nails the “unassuming nice kid” character, while giving us insight into Jake’s inner turmoil and director Jason Karman and screenwriter Gorrman Lee lay in moments of authenticity that members of the Asian diaspora will catch and appreciate.

By Chad Armstrong

Golden Delicious receives its Australian Premiere at Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival 2023 on February 26th and March 1st. Click here for tickets and more information. Both screenings include a special Q&A with director Jason Karman. Actor Jesse Hyde will also participate in the Q&A on Sunday February 26th.

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