In less than seven minutes, Black Iris Film Production's and Simon Santos's Is He? is everything you want in a rom-com. It's light, fun, funny, and with a moment of thoughtful social commentary. In addition, all cast members are representative of the AAPI community.
Everyone needs a BFF and a "wing person" like Yumi (Chloris Li). Li brings the "straight person" persona, literally and figuratively balancing James Aaron Oh's perfectly timed comedic delivery as the unlucky-in-love. And everyone needs a bestie like Yumi because through her unyielding persistence, despite Mark's timid reluctance, you know beneath it all is love. Though proceed cautiously whenever Yumi utters, "Oooooh, that's a cutie," because she's not always the best judge of who just might be into you.
Even in its brevity, Is He? offers a dose of consciousness. Mark laments how unfair it is that he can't simply approach a man he finds attractive as Yumi can do. In a funny flashback, we see Mark being chased by a would-be paramour. Though comedic, it's also a reality check. And a needed moment as the LGBTQ community in the U.S. is currently in the crosshairs of political divisiveness. What better way to receive this message than inside a rom-com?
Is He? is well-written, well-paired, and well-acted and brings to mind Love, Simon, The Half of It, and The Kissing Booth, to name a few. And like all good rom-coms, there's a happy ending, satisfying the audience but also making you want more of Mark's hapless romance and Yumi's "Oooooh, that's a cutie."