Metascore
65

Generally favorable reviews - based on 28 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.5

Universal acclaim- based on 17 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: A romantic comedy about a daughter struggling to understand her mother's heart, which ultimately allows her to understand her own. A story of unspoken loves, contemporary and cultural taboos, and the journey of two women towards living their lives honestly. (Sony Pictures Classics)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 28
  2. Negative: 0 out of 28
  1. 90
    Thought provoking and brimming with charm, match that with an infectious sense of humor and outstanding performances.
  2. A sweet, true and, at times, universal love story it is.
  3. 75
    Just plain fun. Don't miss it.
  4. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    70
    What makes Alice Wu's debut so pleasurable is its easy rhythms, its sly juxtapositions, and its relaxed but funny performances.
  5. Surprisingly fresh and charming overall.
  6. 63
    Actually the problem with Saving Face as a romantic comedy is that its central romance is a drag.
  7. 40
    The umpteenth variation on second-generation American immigrants bucking the traditions of their first-generation elders.

See all 28 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 14
  2. Negative: 0 out of 14
  1. Jan 25, 2013
    8
    Saving Face centers on two women who need to get something out of their systems. One of them, a young Chinese woman surgeon, who is coming to terms with her sexual orientation of being a lesbian and desperately wants to tell her mother of her bias, but fears not for her reaction, but for her already deteriorating level of confidence and fondness for life. Her mother, on the other hand, is pregnant by a man she refuses to identify, leaving her ostracized and a societal blackboard for those with impressions and judgments to right on carelessly.

    The young woman is Wilhelmina, often called "Wil," played by Michelle Krusiec, and her mother is Hwei-lang Gao, played by the wonderful Joan Gao. Throughout the course of the film, Wil struggles to balance her prestigious job as a surgeon, carry on a relationship with the stunning Vivian (Lynn Chen), and juggle her mom's lack of confidence has her pregnancy continues on. We see that after being shunned and disgraced by her father, her only hope is her daughter Wil, who is almost obligated to welcome her into her home with open arms, seeing as she has nowhere else to go. Wil attempts to get her out in the dating game, much to the dismay of her mother, who feels inferior when she stares at Chinese women half her age.

    Coming-out cinema, often regarded as "queer cinema," which sounds more like a demonization, is beginning to channel the formula of heterosexual romantic comedies. The gay white character in present times doesn't shock or surprise audiences like he used to, and because of that, young, ambitious gay filmmakers are looking towards separate cultures and more intimate focuses in order to successfully pull off a unique film in the queer cinema movement. We can view that has subversion of a subversive genre, I suppose.

    Director Alice Wu (who after making this film in 2004, has gone on to do nothing since) makes the welcomed change to shift Saving Face into the morals and dilemmas of remaining culturally devoted despite being an enormous outcast. We see how bound to Chinese culture Wil is, which begins by taking her mother in even though she really doesn't need the extra weight provided, and persistently trying to find a date to reassure her confidence. Coming-out cinema would later reach a similar height when director Dee Rees released Pariah, a story about a young black girl embracing her sexuality in a seamy urban setting. Yet while Pariah appeared soaked in grit, Saving Face comfortably channels the comedic genre, accentuating a playful tone when necessary and a serious tone when applicable to the message of cultural devotion and homosexuality.

    It was a little stunning to watch the credits for this film and find Will Smith and his agent John Lassiter (not to be confused with Pixar's John Lasseter) holding producer's credits for this small indie picture. During this time, Will Smith was at the height of his game, and this same year released his fantasy action movie I, Robot and the animated film Shark Tale. What was his inspiration for funding a modest lesbian film churned out by a first time director and why was it not publicized?

    Starring: Michelle Krusiec, Joan Chen, and Lynn Chen. Directed by: Alice Wu.
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