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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
The moment I saw this movie listed as an entry for the Melbourne Queer Film Festival I knew that come hell or high water I had to see this movie. It promised me something pretty awesome (a movie about a gay Chinese-American guy and his relationship with his racial identity and sexuality while also showing a relationship between him and a Chinese guy?! I'm in!) and then offered up a movie that surprised me by how it was even better (and deeply bittersweet!) than I expected.
I immediately recognized a lot of my younger self in Ryan and could remember how I was always so insistent on pointing out my Aussie-born differences whenever everyone and their granny would act like I was a new immigrant and was automatically related to complete strangers so while I was definitely cringing at Ryan's reaction to Ning in the start it was from the recognition and embarrassment of my own not-so-nice behaviour in the past. Ning was interesting in how as the movie progresses you see him alongside Ryan in a far more nuanced and compassionate eye. He's also a fascinating character in his own right who changes over the course of the movie. You get the impression that no matter what he chooses he has already been permanently changed in his heart and mind and that the future might lead to more unseen changes and possibilities.
Although this is definitely a movie that wanted to explore some nuanced topics that other movies don't always show (I am so desperate for Western movies depicting Asians as complex characters!) it does so in a gently humorous way and through a slow-bubbling romance between Ryan and Ning, whose culture clash regarding their Chinese identity and homosexuality manages to be both entertaining and work as a thematic exploration. I have to admit that I have never rooted so hard for a couple before (and this is definitely a relationship that profoundly changes them by the end) but that this is ultimately a story about coming to terms with who you are. A couple of days after seeing this movie (I was still thinking about it a lot) I realized that I loved it for the same reason that I loved Roman Holiday even though these two movies are obviously very different.
The only reasons why I gave this an 8 and not a 10 is because I think that a couple of jokes won't work for some people and I have to warn that this is not quite the straightforward romantic comedy you might hope for. It's ultimately a character drama that features romance, not the other way around. I also wish the best of luck for this movie, hence the lucky number 8.
Please make this available on DVD in Australia someday! Pretty pretty please! This is basically the movie that I've been waiting for all of my life but never even realized so clearly until seeing this.
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