Saving Face

Writer-director Alice Wu's witty combination of culture-clash farce and romantic comedy is a breezy charmer with an engaging air of effortless confidence. American-born surgical resident Wil (Michelle Krusiec) has made her conservative Chinese-immigrant family proud in all respects but one: She's pushing 30 and still hasn't found a nice boy to marry. Wil...read more

Where to Watch

Available to Stream

Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
Rating:

Writer-director Alice Wu's witty combination of culture-clash farce and romantic comedy is a breezy charmer with an engaging air of effortless confidence. American-born surgical resident Wil (Michelle Krusiec) has made her conservative Chinese-immigrant family proud in all respects but one: She's pushing 30 and still hasn't found a nice boy to marry. Wil indulges her widowed mother (Joan Chen), a dutiful daughter who lives with her old-country parents (Guang Lan Koh, Jin Wang) and never learned English, by regularly making the trip from Manhattan to Queens to attend community get-togethers where well-meaning friends of the family try to fix her up with their successful sons. But what they don't — or won't — understand is that Wil is looking for a nice girl, and self-confident, fiercely intelligent dancer Vivian (Lynn Chen) might be the one. That's not a subject Wil wants to take up with her family, for whom maintaining "face" is of paramount importance, and by keeping her love life in Manhattan and tacitly blaming long hours at work for keeping her single she's managed to avoid outright conflict. Then Wil comes home one night to find her mother sitting on her stoop. Ma has been thrown out of the family home for becoming pregnant, trying to hide her condition and then refusing to name her unborn child's father, but she might be able to go home if she were to find a suitable husband and get married before the baby is born. So Wil must play matchmaker for her mom; it's either that or spend the foreseeable future in a one-bedroom apartment with her and a baby half sibling. The upside is that they become closer than they've been in years, and Wil encourages Ma to let the sexy, stylish butterfly hidden beneath her drab wardrobe and deferential manners emerge. But their newfound closeness has its limits: Wil continues to keep her relationship with Vivian under wraps, which infuriates her forthright girlfriend. Former programmer Wu's confident feature-film debut draws on her own experiences as a first-generation Chinese American and finds a rich mine of humor in the conflict between parents who place a high value on appearances and the wayward children who insist on pursuing their own dreams. The film is simultaneously sweet natured and sharply observed, and if love eventually conquers all, it takes its own sweet time doing it. (In Mandarin and English)

Cast & Details See all »

  • Released: 2005
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Writer-director Alice Wu's witty combination of culture-clash farce and romantic comedy is a breezy charmer with an engaging air of effortless confidence. American-born surgical resident Wil (Michelle Krusiec) has made her conservative Chinese-immigrant fa… (more)

Show More »

Trending TonightSee all »