Saving Face (2005)



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

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, … More

Rating: R (for some sexuality and language)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Alice Wu
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 18, 2005
Box Office: $1.0M
Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site


as Vivian Shing

as Grandpa

as Wai Gung

as Norman

as Little Yu

as Stimson Cho

as Stimson Cho

as Old Yu

as Dr. Liu

as Dr. Shing

as Mrs. Wong

as Mrs. Shing

as Raymond Wong

as Mrs. Yao

as Mrs. Chen

as Mr. Chen

as Mr. Yao

as Mr. Wong

as Stoic Date

as Wart Date

as Stoic Date

as Hospital Receptionis...

as Nurse 2

as Mambo Date

as 8-Year-Old Chinese G...

as Cho Sister 1

as Nurse at Clinic

as Mother at Clinic
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Saving Face

All Critics (92) | Top Critics (34)

Abjectly collapses into feel-good nonsense.

Full Review… | February 9, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top 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?

Full Review… | September 26, 2005
AV Club
Top 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.

Full Review… | July 1, 2005
Toronto Star
Top Critic

Saves face with terrific performances.

Full Review… | July 1, 2005
Orlando Sentinel
Top 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.

Full Review… | July 1, 2005
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Chinese-American mom and daughter reconnect.

Full Review… | December 17, 2010
Common Sense Media

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.

Alice Shen

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.

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.

Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer

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