During the early aughts, indie comics were the only place to find Asian American stories by Asian American cartoonists. One of the biggest books to come out in that period was Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine. Now, a decade and a half later, that indie comic has been turned into an indie movie at Sony Pictures Classics in Randall Park’s directorial debut.
Shortcomings stars Justin H. Min as Ben Tanaka, Sherry Cola as his best friend Alice Kim, and Ally Maki as his girlfriend Miko Hayashi. The graphic novel is very much an artifact of 2000s-era Asian American awareness, so I’ll be curious how it gets updated to fit a 2023 sensibility. Fortunately, Tomine himself adapted the screenplay.
After debuting at Sundance earlier this year, Shortcomings will make its New York premiere at Tribeca this weekend before opening wide on August 4.
Check out the synopsis below to see how closely Tomine stuck to his original graphic novel:
Ben, a struggling filmmaker, lives in Berkeley, California, with his girlfriend, Miko, who works for a local Asian American film festival. When he’s not managing an arthouse movie theater as his day job, Ben spends his time obsessing over unavailable blonde women, watching Criterion Collection DVDs, and eating in diners with his best friend Alice, a queer grad student with a serial dating habit. When Miko moves to New York for an internship, Ben is left to his own devices, and begins to explore what he thinks he might want.