From writer, director, and producer Ray Yeung comes a new gay-themed movie, Front Cover. Pinktrails.com was treated to an early preview before it opens here in Thailand on the 11th of August at House RCA, Ratchada.
Front Cover is about subtle undercurrents and in your face contrasts. In that, it intelligently blends in with the movie's decor; that of fashion and style. The story begins with New York born and raised Ryan (Jake Choi), who's parents are of Chinese heritage, as he struggles to establish a career as a stylist in the Big Apple. Ryan is talented, hard working and not afraid to stand up for what he believes in. Those beliefs, however, belie a different reality that is perhaps built more on hopes and dreams than the actual facts of Ryan's 'modern day life'. "It's not so difficult anymore to be gay", Ryan says. I suppose that what happens next, proves him both wrong and right.
In Front Cover, modern and ancient realities of homosexuality go on a collision course when Ryan is assigned as the stylist of a Chinese movie star. Ning, portrayed by James Chen, has traveled to Ryan's side of the world in an attempt at introducing himself to the American audience. To an extent, Ning's ways are those of a lost wanderer in the vast, generational expanse that China's rapid ascent into modernization has left in its wake. He is as much a product of tradition as he is a pioneer at the frontiers of China's new world evolution.
Ning, who's insecurities are all too clearly highlighted by his most obnoxious entourage, is clearly uncomfortable with Ryan being so openly gay. Director Ray Yeung inserts plenty of humor into the storyline by the various clashes that result from the two characters' intertwining of fates. "All the good stylists are gay", argues Ryan when Ning tries to replace him with someone not so blatantly obvious about his sexual orientation. But perhaps the greatest discomfort runs much more subtle through the storyline of Front Cover. Views belonging to a time long gone, that on close inspection, insist on overstaying their welcome in the modern-day world.
In a very Asian way, the viewer can take this movie in any way they like. The front is a cover. It's both light-hearted and deep, it has tragedy, romance, and humor. The photography is excellent. The camera captures the subtle and very elegant features of Ryan and aligns them with the asymmetrical, more rugged architecture of Ning's. Physiques are framed to the attraction. Subtly, the camera dances with fading and focus and often rests on interesting parts of decor. Here too, Yeung seeks and finds contrast, subtlety, and most certainly: beauty.
Front Cover is a movie perfectly suitable as an easy to consume drama but provides enough food for thought to those with the appetite for it. What gives Front Cover an extra punch, and the (gay) movie lover an extra reason to go and see it is the stylishness of how both the sets and the actors are dressed. If you're looking for visual inspiration; chances are that in this thoroughly enjoyable movie you'll find it.