Based on a short film of the same name by the same filmmaker, the movie begins with a young girl who is date-raped and forced into an unhappy shotgun marriage. Both parents abandon the resulting child, forcing the maternal grandmother to raise her. Flash-forward 16 years, and now the bitter child is beginning her own exploration of dating and adulthood--just as "mom" shows up to attempt a reconciliation, both with her daughter and her past--in particular her own mother and the tradition-bound culture she represents. Each character has their own idea of what's right, and each one has broken their own rules--so when they all get together, it's a powderkeg.
The film rotates a bit too much between scenes of familial arguing and societal clashing (the daughter is dating an African-American man in a close-knit Chinese community), but strong performances (including a surprisingly charming turn from Anthony "Treach" Criss as the supportive beau) and realistic urban and minority sensibilities save the film from being a simple angst-fest. "Face" is about how each of us struggles with our own identity from within our expected roles. From the burden of tradition to the needs of each generation to distinguish itself, the film provides much room for reflection and discussion afterwards. It is an emotional and rewarding film for anyone who's ever struggled to find their place in their family and the world. Starring Bai Ling, Kristy Wu, Kieu Chinh and Anthony "Treach" Criss. Directed, written and produced by Bertha Bay-Sa Pan. Written by Oren Moverman. Produced by Alexa L. Fogel, Joseph Infantolino, Jonathan Shoemaker and Derrick Tseng. An Indican release. Drama. Unrated. Running time: 84 min