The source of Kasie and Carey’s psychic wounds emerges only gradually in this sad but rarely maudlin film by Justin Chon (“Gook”), which carefully explores the rapprochement between brother and sister that occurs when Kasie is forced to ask Carey for help caring for their dying father (James Kang) after the older man’s home health-care aide suddenly quits.
Other things also come into slow focus, in flashbacks and in conversation between Kasie and Octavio (Octavio Pizano), the sweet young man who works at her club as a valet — and who is clearly far, far better for her than the jerk she’s dating (Ronnie Kim). Much else in Chon’s film (which he co-wrote with Chris Dinh) is equally obvious: Kasie is stuck in a pattern of giving men who don’t deserve it exactly what they want. Everyone urges her to put Dad in hospice, but she refuses, despite the fact that her father’s nastiness is precisely what drove her brother to run away as a teenager. Her predicament — one that necessitated her dropping out of music school — is by choice.
The empowerment trajectory of “Ms. Purple,” whose title may refer both to the color of two dresses worn by its protagonist and to the hue of hard-won bruises she sports by the end of the film, will surprise no one. There are, however, some refreshing touches: Carey, for instance, is delighted to discover that his father’s sickbed has wheels on it. The free spirit proceeds to push his father all over town.
But when she tells her brother that the abusive customers at the karaoke bar “all seem like they needed somebody — they all reminded me of Dad,” it does not come as news to him, and it won’t comes as news to you either.
Unrated. At Landmark’s E Street Cinema. Contains crude language, violence, drug use and brief nudity. In English and some (partially subtitled) Korean. 87 minutes.