Shortcomings is a 2023 American comedy-drama film directed and produced by Randall Park (in his feature directorial debut), from a screenplay by Adrian Tomine, based upon Tomine’s comic book story that was first published in 2004 in the pages of Optic Nerve #9 – #11. 


Shortcomings follows a trio of young, Bay Area urbanites–Ben Tanaka, Miko Hayashi and Alice Kim–as they navigate a range of interpersonal relationships while traversing the country in search of the ideal connection. The story is more of a character study of the protagonist Ben – based somewhat on Tomine’s own experiences – than a straight romantic comedy and on a deeper level explores the psychology of Asian-Americans in their effort to assimilate into the general American (i.e. white) society.

Ben (as played by Justin Min), is a self-absorbed depressive frustrated creative – you know the type – who has an unhealthy obsession (fetish?) with white women. His relationship with his girlfriend Miko isn’t too healthy either, as he does not really pay much attention to her and is instead more occupied with his own needs. In fact, when Miko departs for New York – ostensibly for an internship – Ben is barely bothered at all, and seizes on the opportunity to indulge his ‘white woman’ fetish, with disastrous results.

Shortcomings is really about Ben’s myriad flaws, common enough for most young males, who basically think with their dicks and take their hobbies way too seriously in lieu of a romantic commitment. Ben only realises something is not quite right between Miko and him, when his best friend Alice – who has also moved to New York – reports back to him on strange happenings involving Miko. Ben heads over to New York to resolve his issues with Miko and does in the end, sort of.

With Tomine adapting his own comics for screen, one can expect the story to be quite faithful, just updated for our current times. Actor Randall Park makes his directorial debut here and it is a sensitive, entertaining film overall. Certain aspects of the Asian-American experience may be alien to us Asians but there is enough universality in the boy-girl dynamic to satisfy audiences everywhere. Recommended!

Watch now on Amazon

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