Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Falling For Grace" - Movie Review

On Wednesday night, March 17, 2010, the Spring Semester of my movie class began with a screening of the romantic comedy Falling For Grace


When a young Chinese American woman is mistaken for a noted socialite at a party, she winds up falling in love with a man she met at the function -- but will she be able to keep him once he learns the truth?


Born and raised in the Chinatown section of New York City, Grace is an intelligent and attractive young woman, ambitiously looking to make a successful career for herself in the world of finance. Although she wouldn't mind finding a little romance to enter her life, thus far, no one she's met has appealed to her -- that is, until she gets the opportunity to attend a high society party, where a number of the attendees mistake her for another Chinese American socialite of the same name. To complicate matters, she is then introduced to Andrew, who now is also under the impression that she's this socialite as well.

Andrew, as it turns out, is a lawyer for the New York State Attorney General's Office and is about to bust a major clothing designer for running a sweatshop in the Chinatown section of Manhattan where Chinese immigrants are employed as cheap labor to manufacture her clothing. Upon learning of this, Grace sees this as a problem because of the fact that her mother is one of the employees and she is worried that if the shop gets shut down, then her mother will not only lose her income, but also, lose her connection with other Chinese speaking members of her community.

Accidentally running into Grace's brother, Andrew learns that she is not who he thought she was. When Andrew confronts Grace about what he's just learned, she finally admits the truth. Feeling ashamed and embarrassed about being deceived, Andrew breaks up with Grace and continues on with his efforts to expose the sweatshop -- but will Grace be able to earn his trust sufficiently to win him back while not having her mother's livelihood threatened?


What's the best thing about this movie? It's very cute. What's the worst thing about this movie? It's very cute. Oppressively cute. As a matter of fact, it almost collapses under the weight of its own cuteness, that's how cute it is. Having said that, however, it's a pretty good effort for someone who is a first time fimmaker. While this might be the kind of movie that could make you cringe -- especially if you're a real He-Man like me -- your lady might just enjoy it for its gentle humor, warmth, romance and generally upbeat tone.

The main thing to keep in mind here is the fact that you'll need to rent a crane the likes of which they use to construct skyscrapers just to suspend your disbelief with some scenes -- there are too many coincidences to be able to take the story seriously, but you may just find the idea and the characters likeable enough that none of it will matter. One other thing about this movie that I thought was interesting was the fact that while most of the actors in the major roles are unknowns, there are plenty of famous names and faces in smaller roles or cameos that will get your attention; you'll be able to find them if you scroll through the cast list on IMDB, but I'll tell you right now that not all of them are credited.

The post - screening interview included the movie's writer/director/star, Fay Ann Lee, who played Grace; Gale Harold, who played her boyfriend, Andrew; and Clem Cheung who played Grace's father. Fay Ann discussed her background, where she graduated from Wharton with a degree in Finance and was offered a job by several Wall Street firms after graduation -- eventually, she turned them all down because what she really wanted to do was to become an actress. In New York, she got a job performing in the musical "Miss Saigon" on Broadway, then did regional theater before getting TV roles on various soap operas and "Law & Order" episodes. She started writing the script about a decade ago and then gradually began raising money to fund the filming; after appearing at several film festivals, she eventually found a distributor and the movie will open this weekend.