Ellie, a 12-year-old girl, has just moved to America from Israel with her family. Ellie knows very little about America, leading her to grow extremely homesick and lonely. Things get better for Ellie when she meets Thuy, a Vietnamese refugee, who is in a few of her classes. Considering that both Ellie and Thuy come from similar situations, they grow inseparable but like any friendship/ relationship, there are bumps along the road. Ela Thier's Foreign Letters is sensitive and touching portrait of friendship that slowly unfolds between two preteen girls who both feel alienated and lonely in a country that they don't fully understand. Early on in Foreign Letters, the viewer is given a great sense of the cultural shock which exists for young Ellie, who has just moved from Israel to America. Ellie observes how many things are free, from condiment packages to pencils, even at one point being astonished that her school has its own "restaurant" where the children get their food. This type of cultural change is jarring and the film does a good job at capturing both the comedic and dramatic sides which exist. America is like a new world her and the film does a good job at capturing the wonderment of young Ellie as she tries to make sense of her situation. The friendship that unfolds between Thuy and Ellie is tender and genuine, with Thuy and Ellie gravitating towards each other because of this bond they share of very different cultural backgrounds. I really liked the character choices of the film, with Ellie and Thuy taking a long time to actually form their relationship. Ellie is a shy and lonely girl at first, and the film understands that Ellie would be very timid to initiate contact with Thuy, even though she strongly seeks companionship. While Foreign Letters is certainly a love letter to the power of friendship, in a way the film gives a great portrait of America, capturing the melting pot of cultures which exist and intertwine which makes America unique. In fact, the friendship troubles which exist between Thuy and Elie late in the film stem from their cultural differences, showing how this melting pot is always a work in progress. There is nothing profound about Foreign Letters, but it is an endearing portrait of young friendship that translates to a broader scope -culture in America.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.