A Face To Die For, filmed in 1996, stars Yasmine Bleeth as Emily Gilmore (LOL), a woman with facial scarring who embarks on an odyssey of self-actualization and, eventually, revenge.
Actually, that’s an oversimplification, because this isn’t just one movie – it’s actually seven separate short films. I will attempt to review them all, in order of appearance.
Film #1: A Cautionary Tale Involving a Naïve, Sheltered Woman
Emily Gilmore is a shy woman lacking confidence due to facial scarring from a childhood accident.
You can tell she’s shy because her hair is in face all the time. Aspiring filmmakers take note: it’s called subtle characterization.
Emily doesn’t just live in the shadow of a set designer’s mood lighting, she also lives in the shadow of her prettier, more confident sister.
So when a mysterious man shows interest in her, she falls into an intense love affair, including the obligatory Lifetime soft-focus sex scene.
Their romance is short-lived, because boyfriend turns out to be EVIL, and cons Emily into participating in a clumsy robbery to cover his gambling debts. They attempt to steal cash from the antique store Emily works at, and Emily gets caught. Boyfriend gets away.
Message: Be suspicious of guys that act like they’re really into you. They’re probably just trying to rob the place where you work.
Film #2: Women’s Prison Movie
Emily takes the fall for the crime, and goes to prison. She stares winsomely through the prison’s chain link fence, pines for boyfriend, and develops a fast friendship with Sassy Cell Mate, played by Robin Givens.
Robin protects Emily from the prison meanies and gets her to think twice about getting back with boyfriend.
Message: Girl power?
Film #3: Pygmalion
Emily meets a prison doctor who takes a keen interest in her scars, and asks her if he could try to fix them. Emily decides to go through with Dr. Creepy’s experimental surgery.
To prepare her for surgery, Dr. Creepy takes Emily to his colonial estate and gives her a tasteful, non-dumpy wardrobe.
Just your standard hospital stay, right?
The surgery is a success, and Emily and Sassy Cell Mate are out of prison and ready to start their lives over. The now-beautiful Emily accepts Dr. Creepy’s marriage proposal.
Things are looking up – until…
It’s revealed, via this tasteful portrait, that Dr. Creepy has sculpted Emily’s face after the deceased former Mrs. Creepy.
Production note: I guess the props department only had the budget to decoupage a Yasmine Bleeth Maxim spread, color the background with some nontoxic glow-in-the-dark paint, and slap it behind a frame they found in a hotel lobby.
Message: Creepy men with ulterior motives may be hiding something.
Film #4: Wish Fulfillment Fantasy
Emily runs off. Sassy Cell Mate has plenty of money courtesy of her former employer, and the two go into the fashion business together. Emily is an instant success, winning a prestigious fashion award only months into her new career.
Life is good.
Message: It’s fun to be hot, have a great career, and throw it in everyone’s faces.
Film #5: Revenge Wish Fulfillment Fantasy
Emily’s ex-boyfriend shows up and – get this – doesn’t recognize her! In fact, simply by wearing less dumpy clothing, pushing her hair out of her eyes, and standing in brighter lighting Emily is utterly unrecognizable to former friends and family.
After learning that loser ex-boyfriend is now shacking up with her sister, Emily decides to hatch an elaborate revenge plan.
Message: Revenge is a dish best served with really big hair.
Film #6: Somewhat Confusing Revenge Movie
Emily begins a relationship with ex-boyfriend, who still doesn’t know who she is. Now ex-boyfriend’s wife is pissed…and that wife is Emily’s sister, who still doesn’t recognize her.
The whole thing begins to interfere with Emily’s new life, including her blossoming relationship with New Guy, an acquaintance from the old days who also doesn’t recognize her.
I guess he doesn’t look like the brightest bulb, but still.
The whole thing ends in a sloppy brawl between Emily, sister and the ex-boyfriend.
See? Pretty sloppy. Oh yeah, and ex-boyfriend is kind of accidentally killed in the mayhem.
Message: Revenge can end up hurting people who were basically bad to begin with.
Film #7: Happy Ending?
Emily and sister escape from the crime scene and seem to be off the hook for the death of ex-boyfriend. Emily gets in the car with New Guy to get away for the weekend. As they drive away, Emily says, “Before we go, there’s something I should tell you.”
Hmm, that the cops may be asking some questions because you know, you were kind of involved in a murder back there?
New Guy replies with a warm smile. “Whatever it is I’m sure I already know.”
Emily smiles and sighs contentedly.
Message: Murder is not that bad if the circumstances are confusing. Happy endings are ALWAYS possible. Also, Yasmine Bleeth is not the same person as Tiffani Amber Thiessen.
[…] Eagle-eyed viewers will remember this turning your new wife into your old wife trope from one of my earliest reviews, of A Face to Die For. […]