Reviews & Previews - Saving Face

Posted on Wednesday, October 26, 2005 at 06:00 PM

Saving Face

By: S. Tran

Starring: Michelle Krusiec, Joan Chen, Lynn Chen
Directed and Written By: Alice Wu
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Rated: Rated R for some sexuality and language.

Funny Face

I guess this movie could have been called "My Little Skinny Chinese Wedding" except there was no wedding. But that should give you an idea of what this film is about. This entertaining movie was released late last year to little fanfare. Given the fact that almost the entire cast is Chinese and that half of the movie is in Chinese its no wonder it slipped under the radar. If you enjoy quiet comedies though you should watch this one.

Actually my comparison to "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (MBFGW) isn't quite accurate. While both movies do delve into the humour arising when different generations of families clash, Saving Face is a much smaller movie. The laughs come more naturally than they did from MBFGW and this is part of the appeal of the film. Once the premise has been set up, Wu's script is full of funny moments that don't rely on loud, over the top antics. The film does tend to lean a bit on some of the cultural stereotypes to inject some laughs. To its credit though, the scenes work even if you aren't Chinese.

Krusiec stars as Wil, a young doctor forever trying to please her widowed mother played by Joan Chen who is in turn trying to please her own parents. Wil's life suddenly gets very complicated when she meets and falls in love with Vivian (Lynn Chen), a ballerina who is openly gay. To add to Wil's problems her mother suddenly shows up at her doorstep one night after being thrown out by Wil's grandfather for getting pregnant and refusing to tell anyone who the father is. The "Saving Face" in the title refers to the shame that each daughter brings to her parents because of the circumstances of their lives.

From there the script follows a fairly pedestrian path and the problems are resolved in tidy packages. In that sense the movie won't provide you with anything too challenging or provide for much discussion afterwards, but for the 91 minutes it lasts it will hold your attention.

Alice Wu does an amazing job as a first time director in coaxing some really nice performances from the cast. Krusiec is charming as the confused Wil and Joan Chen turns in another strong performance as her slightly lost mother. Both actresses play off each other very well even though Chen seemed a bit young to be playing Krusiec's mother. The rest of the cast also give good performances although its unlikely you'll see too much of any of them in the future given the lack of roles for Asian actors generally.

The film's low budget actually works to its advantage as the lack of a slick look helps accentuate the movie's intimate feel. Even so, everything is handled quite well and the final look is polished if somewhat under lighted at times.

Obviously this film is going to have limited appeal given the subject matter and the fact that half the movie is subtitled. If you have some time though and want to enjoy a relaxing evening with some laughs grab this one from the video store.


3.5 stars out of 5.


NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to