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Saving Face (2005)



Average Rating: 6.7/10
Reviews Counted: 83
Fresh: 72 | Rotten: 11

A charming tale of a love affair that overcomes cultural taboos.


Average Rating: 7/10
Critic Reviews: 30
Fresh: 27 | Rotten: 3

A charming tale of a love affair that overcomes cultural taboos.



liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 8,287

My Rating

Movie Info

An Asian-American woman and her mother both find their private lives are becoming a family matter in this romantic comedy-drama. Wilhelmina Pang (Michelle Krusiec) is a surgeon living in Manhattan whose mother (Joan Chen) is eager for her to settle down with a nice man and get married. What Ma doesn't know is that Wilhelmina happens to be a lesbian -- or rather, Ma prefers not to acknowledge it, since she once walked in on Wilhelmina and her girlfriend several years before. As it happens,


Drama, Romance, Comedy

Alice Wu

Oct 18, 2005


Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site External Icon

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Latest News on Saving Face

October 5, 2005:
Summer Tomatometer Wrap-up #3: The Best of the Limited Releases
In the hot summer months, everyone's looking for a way to cool down. This summer, movie audiences...


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All Critics (92) | Top Critics (34) | Fresh (72) | Rotten (11) | DVD (7)

Abjectly collapses into feel-good nonsense.

February 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The message here, as in every quirky ethnic romantic comedy, is 'follow your heart.' But wouldn't it be great if for once the characters cared more about the continuity of antiquated cultural traditions than their own personal happiness?

September 26, 2005 Full Review Source: AV Club | Comment (1)
AV Club
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Goes beyond the obvious into something a lot more current and meaningful: the need to make your own love, even if society looks askance.

July 1, 2005 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Saves face with terrific performances.

July 1, 2005 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Wu has a keen ear for the rhythm of speech, and much of the humour rests in the conversations' staccato beat -- in breezy put-downs and tossed-off asides and disgruntled mutterings.

July 1, 2005 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Chinese-American mom and daughter reconnect.

December 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Wu has abundant affection for her characters and a sharp eye for how they interact.

August 3, 2007 Full Review Source:

Exudes the kind of warmth and intelligence that delivers to well-defined segments of the indie-oriented audience.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

If that sounds supremely sitcomy, well, it is. But Wu and her cast elevate the proceedings.

September 16, 2005 Full Review Source: Kansas City Star
Kansas City Star

There's a wedding, a death and two love affairs in Saving Face, and they all come as a surprise

August 30, 2005 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

This indie film's wrong turns include a feel-good finish as phony as any Hollywood ending.

August 12, 2005
Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)

Lesbian Chinese-Americans deserve sitcom fantasies of idealized romantic reassurance as much as anyone, I suppose...

July 22, 2005
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

The sort of competent, intelligent and humane film that often signals the beginning of a major career.

July 16, 2005 Full Review Source: Boston Herald
Boston Herald

First-time writer-director Alice Wu has taken the usual romance formula and given it cultural pizzazz.

July 15, 2005

Although fun while it lasts, it's just another cute story about family and acceptance that could have been a lot more convincing and heartfelt with just a little more depth.

July 14, 2005 Full Review Source:

Far from seeming weighed down by a need to satisfy various interest groups, "Face" is light-footed, at times cheeky and always true to its sharply-drawn cast of characters.

July 14, 2005 Full Review
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

It's a coming-out party for Krusiec, a bit player in Sweet Home Alabama who blossoms as a performer relaying emotion with deft touches and subtle yearning.

July 13, 2005 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

...a Hollywood romantic comedy stripped of all the bombast and star turns.

July 8, 2005 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

As a sweet comedy, it's enjoyable enough, as long as you don't expect it to carry the burden of an entire ethnic or sexual community on its shoulders.

July 7, 2005 Full Review Source: Las Vegas Weekly
Las Vegas Weekly

Equal parts adorable and unbelievable.

July 7, 2005
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The story is not unique, but Wu manages to give it enough charming humor to make it fresh and enjoyable.

July 6, 2005 Full Review Source:

... surprisingly fresh and charming overall.

July 5, 2005 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Audience Reviews for Saving Face

Absolutely delightful. An American-Born-Chinese lesbian finds her world rocked when her widowed mother is disowned for getting pregnant out of wedlock. The story subverts stereotypes about race, gender, sexuality, and age, but it never seems to do too much. Enough time is spent on major and minor characters and plots. The end teeters on Joy Luck Club-level saccharine, but the performances are all nuanced and the bilingual script is seamless in mixing the elders' traditional Mandarin and the ABCs' mix of English and broken Mandarin.

There is the requisite nagging Tiger Mom we've come to expect from Asian culture clash films, but Joan Chen brings a quieter, more sensual layer as well, since Ma is also back on the market. Michelle Krusiec, as the surgeon daughter, is brilliantly still and funny in a serious way. There are even a few mannerisms of hers that I know I do/did in my one short film acting experience. She, along with Carey Mulligan and Emmanuelle Béart, are actresses whose faces I'd like to wear, "Silence-of-the-Lambs"-style.
December 27, 2012

Super Reviewer

An American-born Chinese doctor falls into a lesbian relationship with a woman who rejects the strictures of their shared culture against the backdrop of her mother's scandalous pregnancy.
The first act of this film is positively delightful, a Chinese version of Imagine Me and You. Michelle Krusiec is a gem as Wil, full of quick wit and a reserved sexuality. Joan Chen perfectly captures the type of Chinese mom I've seen in real life, commanding yet somehow behind the times enough to make one cautious to rebel, feeling a sense of respect we automatically associate to antiquity. And Lynn Chen is the perfect leading lady to Krusiec's character.
The film is about all the things one might expect, prejudice, modernity, and the need to rebel against the mores of the past. Obviously, these themes aren't new, but they seem fresh through writer/director Alice Wu's lens.
The second and third acts were a little slow; it was almost as though the film had to stop to unravel itself, and the sharp, charming wit of the first act slipped away.
Overall, Saving Face is a delightful film, and I hope to see more of Krusiec.
January 16, 2012
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Ok, so when I first heard of this, the plot sort of threw me for a loop. Chinese lesbian? 50-year-old unmarried pregnant mother? This is risky stuff! But really, it's just poor man's Ang Lee. Given the plot, Alice Wu makes it seem as low-key as possible, which I guess is kind of the point? but doesn't make it any more interesting. It's a tolerable kind of movie.
December 3, 2009

Super Reviewer

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