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Front Cover is about a gay New York City fashion stylist, Ryan, who detests and rejects his Asian upbringing. He is given an assignment to style Ning, a foreign actor, for an important photo shoot. After a rocky start, an unlikely friendship develops between them leading Ryan to examine his identity and make a major decision about an enticing new path for his life and career.Written by
I've seen many depictions of the challenges of Asian American identity --in film, dance, theatre and even in a musical. Often it's a tall order to expect a thought-provoking blend of humor, believable dialogue, strong characters, a great story and a fresh approach. Front Cover, which I viewed during its world premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival, fulfills all of that for me.
Since the story takes place against the backdrop of the fashion industry in New York City, you will have to endure the requisite diva tantrums and photo-shoot dramas in the opening scenes. Once past those caricatures, you'll be rewarded by a story with a recognizable emotional cadence, yet with surprising twists and turns.
What I cheered most about was the depiction of the range of Asian masculinity and emotions. American actors Jake Choi and James Chen do a fantastic job--of traveling a journey of wariness, rejection, willingness, trust, intimacy and vulnerability--as the two main characters who in the end are faced, as movie characters always are, with difficult choices to make. The actions they choose render a story that will resonate for nearly anyone.
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