Face (2002) - Rotten Tomatoes

Face (2002)



Critic Consensus: Face takes a well-meaning look at the immigrant experience whose affecting performances are often enough to outweigh its frustrating pacing and storytelling issues.

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Movie Info

Three generations of Chinese-American women struggle to reconcile tradition and family with their own needs and desires in this independent drama from first-time director Bertha Bay-Sa Pan. In 1977, Kim (Bai Ling) is an intelligent and headstrong Asian-American, whose mother (Kieu Chinh) is eager to see married off to an eligible man as soon as possible. Kim isn't interested in settling down just yet, and is dating a bright but struggling law student, Willie (Ken Leung). Kim is making some extra money by tutoring Daniel (Will Yun Lee), a handsome but irresponsible boy from a wealthy family. Daniel seduces Kim one evening after she's had an argument with Willie, and while she has no interest in seeing Daniel again, she soon discovers that she's pregnant with his child, and both her mother and Daniel's parents insist that they marry. It doesn't take long for Kim to realize that she and Daniel don't care much for one another, and Kim decides to leave America for Singapore, leaving her baby daughter Genie in mother's care. Two decades later, grown-up Genie (Kristy Wu) is even more rebellious than her mother, and while Genie pays a modicum of lip service to her grandmother, she's no more interested in settling down with a nice Chinese boy than Kim was. Genie has been dating Michael (Treach), an African-American hip-hop musician; Michael is eager to make their relationship more permanent, but Genie isn't so sure, and her grandmother has no idea what to make of Genie's new beau. When Kim arrives on one of her infrequent visits, the three generations of this family find themselves struggling to find a common ground. Face was screened in competition at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.


Kristy Wu
as Genie
Kieu Chinh
as Mrs. Liu
Tina Chen
as Mrs. Chang
Ken Leung
as Willie
Les J.N. Mau
as Mr. Huang
Diane Cheng
as Mrs. Mar
Ruth Zhang
as Mrs. Huang
Ben Wang
as Mr. Leung
Susan Bigelow
as Hospital Nurse
Paul J.Q. Lee
as Husband No. 2
Tina Factor
as Asian Woman
View All

Critic Reviews for Face

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (11)

With no access to these women's inner selves, we are left wanting at least a fuller portrait of their outer lives, some way to infer the meaning that the film declines to provide.

October 19, 2018 | Rating: 3/5

Ling, delicate and haunted, and Wu, a real spitfire, make their reconciliation sting as much as it soothes.

October 19, 2018 | Rating: B

[Pan's] actors are exceptional.

October 19, 2018

There's something especially frustrating about small, personal independent movies that adhere to the stodgy conventions of small, personal, independent movies as if compelled by a cadre of militant MFA candidates.

October 19, 2018 | Rating: 2/5

It's a tale worth telling again -- especially if you feel the material as strongly as recent Columbia film-school grad Bertha Bay-Sa Pan seems to.

October 19, 2018 | Rating: 2.5/4

A meditation on the conflict between family loyalties and personal ambition, Face ... can feel slight on a first viewing. But ... it is likely to remain in your head long afterward.

October 19, 2018 | Rating: 3/5

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