Review: Always Be My Maybe
Starring Ali Wong, Randall Park, and Keanu Reeves
Ali Wong’s unique brand of humour has long been transgressive in its ability to skewer motherhood, pregnancy, sex, and relationships. After two of her standup specials, her first feature has recently released on Netflix. Always Be My Maybe is a unique look at relationships and class structures.
The film centres on a decades-long but interrupted relationship between Sasha Tran (Wong) and Marcus Kim (Park). Growing up together in San Francisco, the two belatedly start a relationship only to drift apart. The two find themselves in one another’s lives again some twenty years later, having taken quite different paths in life. Where Sasha has become a famous (and rich) celebrity chef feeding the rich and famous, Marcus works as part of his father’s air conditioning business and plays the same dive bar as part of his (obviously talented) band.
Always Be My Maybe thereby has much to explore when it comes to its two protagonists’ disparate lifestyles, with Marcus constantly receiving the subtle (and occasionally, the stated) message that Sasha is out of his league and above him in stature. This consciousness of the part that class still has to play in contemporary society is one of the surprising messages that the film has to impart through its enjoyable romantic comedy.
Always Be My Maybe also has much to impart about the importance of hospitality. Underpinning much of the relationship between Tran and Kim is the way that Marcus’ family extended a warm welcome to Sasha when she was their young neighbour, left alone frequently by the demands of her parents’ schedule. The nature of grief is also explored surprisingly well, but is more of a background theme.
The performances in Always Be My Maybe deliver beyond expectations. Wong demonstrates that she is capable of delivering in a full feature. Fans of her standup work will enjoy seeing much of the same mannerisms and delivery here.
Park delivers another reliable performance as Marcus, managing to divide between the character’s laziness and likability. As noted, he also demonstrates his music talent here, which adds a good deal to his character’s likability.
Keanu Reeves continues his dominance of 2019 with what might be Always Be My Maybe’s highlight and one of the best self-effacing cameos since Extras finished. He is constantly hilarious in a role that he largely improvised during filming, something that noticeably adds to his character’s erratic nature.
Always Be My Maybe is streaming now on Netflix.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor