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Waiting for the Light to Change

by Rachel Willis

The quarter-life crisis. From the hindsight of middle-age, it seems an enviable position to be in. Yet, the memory is fresh enough to recognize the anxiety, loneliness, and a certain longing for direction. Director Linh Tran captures the feeling with heartfelt tenderness in her film Waiting for the Light to Change.

Falling between the ages of 23 and 25, several friends, including Amy (Jin Park) and Kim (Joyce Ha), have gathered at a beach house. Kim has a boyfriend, a career, and enough money to allow Amy to join the group. Amy, on the other hand, is single and back in school because she couldn’t find a job.

Kim’s cousin Lin (Qun Chi) has recently broken up with a beloved boyfriend because the distance between the United States and China was too great.

Tran mines the tumultuous years after college to examine characters on the verge of their adult lives. Amy’s loneliness pushes her to do things she might not otherwise do. The aimlessness Jay (Sam Straley) feels leads him to make decisions he later regrets.

And though they have the connection of a lengthy friendship, Amy and Kim’s conversations are often fraught with tension. The early- to-mid 20s is a period when many start to realize a friendship made in youth may be toxic.

The film loses its momentum as it moves toward its climax. The group’s apathy starts to manifest in more solid ways, which detracts from the affecting dialogue. As images take the place of realistic and uncomfortable moments between characters, the movie flounders.

A few moments try too hard for profundity and instead stumble over stereotypical conversation. It’s disappointing that these unnatural moments shoulder their way into a film more notable for its naturalism.

However, Waiting for the Light to Change rights itself as it progresses. As relationships rupture, we’re drawn into the turmoil that often plagues adolescents as they struggle to find their way into adulthood.