Saving Face

Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 87


Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,523
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Saving Face Photos

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, Wilhelmina is looking for someone special in her life, and thinks she may have found her in Vivian (Lynn Chen), a beautiful dancer, but a fear of commitment and a desire to keep her medical career on track is making their relationship problematic. As Wilhelmina tries to get her love life in order, her mother's shifts into crisis mode. Ma, a 48-year-old widow, has just discovered she's pregnant, and her staunchly traditional father (Li Zhiyu) will not allow her back into the home they share until she's married someone respectable. Unwilling to name the father of her baby, Ma is forced to move in with Wilhelmina, and while enduring the emotional roller coaster of pregnancy she is being pressured by friends and relatives to marry Cho (Nathaniel Geng), a sweet but boring man she doesn't especially like. Saving Face was the first feature film from writer and director Alice Wu.

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Lynn Chen
as Vivian Shing
Li Zhiyu
as Wai Gung
Jin Wang
as Grandpa
David Shih
as Norman
Brian Yang
as Little Yu
Nathanel Geng
as Stimson Cho
Nathaniel Geng
as Stimson Cho
Mao Zhao
as Old Yu
Louyong Wong
as Dr. Shing
Wang Luoyong
as Dr. Liu
Clare Sum
as Mrs. Wong
Qian Luo
as Mrs. Shing
Hoon Lee
as Raymond Wong
Ruth Zhang
as Mrs. Yao
Connie Hsia
as Mrs. Chen
Jackson Ning
as Mr. Chen
Jamie Guan
as Mr. Yao
Paul Sum
as Mr. Wong
Lu Yu
as Stoic Date
Fang Yulin
as Wart Date
Lu Yue
as Stoic Date
Twinkle Burke
as Hospital Receptionist
Tina Johnson
as Nurse 2
Phillip Meng
as Mambo Date
Chloe Tsang
as 8-Year-Old Chinese Girl
Rosa Luo
as Cho Sister 1
Christy Qin
as Nurse at Clinic
Nan Meng
as Mother at Clinic
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News & Interviews for Saving Face

Critic Reviews for Saving Face

All Critics (87) | Top Critics (30)

Audience Reviews for Saving Face

  • Dec 27, 2012
    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 S Super Reviewer
  • Jan 16, 2012
    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 H Super Reviewer
  • Apr 25, 2010
    Romantic comedy with a difference as a Chinese American widow and daughter break with tradition by getting pregnant and being gay. Nice film, I liked it. From OZQ's favourites list <img src="">
    Lesley N Super Reviewer
  • Apr 25, 2008
    I really like these two characters a lot. Very good acting and a sweet but believable little movie.
    Sunil J Super Reviewer

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