Edison Chen and Kelly Hu in "Almost Perfect." (Eleven Arts )
There's an actively dysfunctional family at the center of writer-director Bertha Bay-Sa Pan's New York-set indie "Almost Perfect," and it's done a real number on the romantic hopes of thirtysomething go-getter Vanessa (Kelly Hu).
She's found her best shot yet at love with a funny, attentive old friend (Ivan Shaw), but she acts as though romantic bliss is a genetic impossibility considering her immediate kin: a boy-toy-mad fashion designer sister (Christina Chang), a commitment-phobe brother (Edison Chen) and bickering, self-absorbed parents (Tina Chen and Roger Rees).
Hu and Shaw have an easygoing charm, and the accumulation of brittle intra-family squabbling that threatens the romantic leads has its own lived-in believability. But there's also a creeping sameness to many of the scenes — especially concerning Rees' tactless dad — that, after the nice bloom-of-love spark of the first half-hour, eventually dries everything out.
Pan is to be commended for her sensitive focus on how a family inured to conflict sours anything it touches, but a distinct lack of directorial oomph prevents "Almost Perfect" from feeling anything but regrettably middlebrow.
"Almost Perfect." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 46 minutes. At AMC Santa Anita 16, Arcadia.