fay ann lee

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Movie: Falling for Grace (2006)

Starring: Fay Ann Lee, Gale Harold, Stephanie March, Roger Rees, Margaret Cho, Christine Baranski, Ken Leung

Synopsis: Grace Tang is from a close knit Chinese American family. While her parents live and work in Chinatown, Grace is a Wall Street investment banker. Though she’s achieved professional and financial success, she often feels out of place amongst the Upper East Side elite that she often does business with. When she is invited to a fancy party she is mistaken for an heiress from Hong Kong, who also happens to have the same name as her. It takes a while for her to realize the mistake since they do have the same name; and when  she’s introduced to the handsome, wealthy (and sweet) Andrew James Barrington, she’s tempted not to correct it so fast! Grace and Andrew’s paths seem to cross often by coincidence.

But seeing Andrew (who still thinks she’s an heiress) confuses Grace’s personal and professional life. Andrew’s father is a prominent lawyer with the District Attorney’s office. He is pursuing a case against a network of Chinatown sweatshops that use illegal labor practices. Grace’s mother works in one of these sweatshops and relies on what little money it provides. In order to help her mother out, Grace tells Andrew that her parents are an elderly couple that she visits as a volunteer, and explains the situation about people relying on that employment, without mentioning that her family is involved. Meanwhile at Grace’s bank, Andrew’s father is also buying out a fashion company- that secretly exploits sweatshop workers.

Grace is falling in love with Andrew and the feeling is mutual. But Andrew does’t know who she really is. An white lie of omission at a party has snowballed out of control for Grace. Now she’ll have to do some serious juggling (with some help from the family) if she is to get out of this mess with her dignity intact and Andrew by her side.

My Thoughts: There’s nothing brilliant about this movie. Let’s get that out of the way right now. It’s a fun, romantic Cinderella story. But  Grace is, for the most part, her own fairy godmother. When the film begins she’s already a success- the child of immigrant parents, she made it to a high position in her chosen field because of her brains and skills. But she lacks confidence in who she is. She doesn’t feel like she belongs with other successful people. That’s partially what her journey is about. Her confidence comes from finding pride in her immigrant parents- who don’t speak English and refuse her efforts to help them financially. They are a part of who she is, as is her Chinese heritage. It’s only when she truly embraces that, and stops trying to be something/someone else that Grace can soar. The “prince” isn’t her prize so much as someone she can be with only by learning to be herself. The Grace he falls in love with isn’t the heiress at all- it’s a Chinese American woman who has become successful by her own talents, skills, and brains. That describes “our” Grace as much as it does an heiress. 

Just to clear up some potential confusion, this film was released elsewhere under the titles East Broadway and Social Grace. Falling For Grace seems to be the most common title but if you can’t find it under that title, look for one of the others. 

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmJEAubCsE0