Summarized by the NY Times~ It’s common for animated movies to tell stories about feeling like a fish (or a mermaid) out of water, but the hand-drawn hybrid “Approved for Adoption” is an actual memoir steeped in that sensation.
Adopted at 5 by a Belgian family, Jung Henin was a difficult child from South Korea who ultimately sought refuge from his identity crisis in drawing. This episodic film, directed by Mr. Henin and Laurent Boileau, traces his rambunctious childhood up through an awkward adolescence, complete with parental shouting matches and camaraderie with his many siblings. We’re mostly marooned in their crowded household in the 1970s (with period references to the “Tall Blond Man” movies).
Rendered mostly in browns and grays, with a mottled watercolor wash, the smooth, layered animation and mellow figures even out what are sometimes painful and embarrassing events. Jung’s recklessness leads to strife for himself and others, and his parents do not spare the rod. Here was a boy gone haywire: missing a birth mother, who became a fantasy figure, yet wary of his ethnic difference, which he both resented and clung to. Super 8 home movies and live-action scenes of Mr. Henin (now a 47-year-old graphic artist) as he researches his patchy history shade in more background, narrated by William Coryn. (The French title, “Couleur de Peau: Miel,” is a line from his adoption papers: “Color of skin: honey.”) The movie is not always well unified and sequenced, but that seems to reflect Mr. Henin’s ambivalence over a past that’s like a book he is at once rereading and rewriting.