Sundance Film Festival 2023: ‘Shortcomings’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

As we get older, keeping relationships becomes difficult. Many factors can affect the outcome of relationships; career goals, mental health, and family issues are just a few. On top of that, social media has become so toxic that even the etiquette of being with a partner is also overanalyzed and tested. In Randall Park’s directorial debut, he explores the lives of three people, Ben Tanaka (Justin H. Min), Miko Hayashi (Ally Maki), and Alice Kim (Sherry Cola), as they search for a genuine connection. The three are interlinked, but they still face hardships on their own because of their personality traits. 

The three characters almost work together to show three different sides of dating. Ben is a very pretentious, condescending, combative and genuinely miserable person. He has been with Miko for six years, and their relationship becomes strained. They get into more arguments because Miko sees the world differently than Ben. Even though the story is about the two of them separating so Miko can follow her dreams in New York City, the stronger connection lies with Ben and Alice. They are best friends and can talk about everything together. The important thing is that Alice calls Ben out on everything. And Ben has a tough character, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve happiness.

Shortcomings shows what it’s like in the modern dating world as times change. Will you be the person who adapts with the rest of society or go against the grain to protect your ideals? Park brings out the best in his actors because it’s such a natural flow of events. It’s simple and realistic, which is what every romantic comedy should strive for. People are complex and have unique perspectives on society and the world around them. Ben is a character that stands by who he is and still tries to find love despite having people tell him the opposite. He’s not an unlikable character, and he’s just defending himself because of how others have hurt him in the past. 

Randall Park’s directorial debut is fresh with an Asian-American cast which explores interracial relationships as well. It’s all about perspective and how the modern world can influence our decisions because of social media. It’s also easy to get wrapped up in certain relationships based on comfort and security. You may be stuck in a relationship that no longer serves you, and you grow out of it while your partner stays the same. Many things happen in this film that break down relationships and how others should be treated through proper communication. What everyone can take from this film is that everyone deserves honesty, and everyone needs to be more understanding of everyone’s circumstances. 


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