Saving Face
Credit: Lynn Chen: Larry Riley

Saving Face


In America, when you watch an ethnic soap opera in which old-world parents reject their adult children’s dreams of love, it’s no secret that a lot of us can feel a twinge of nostalgia for those deeply rooted parental puritans, even though we’re aware their view of relationships is all wrong. Saving Face, a pleasant if sketchy Chinese-American family drama, is a study in multigenerational guilt-tripping. Wilhelmina (Michelle Krusiec), a rising young surgeon, prefers women to men, but her mother (Joan Chen) would disown her if she knew. Mom, however, is every bit as scandalous: At 48, she gets pregnant without a husband, and her parents, who are stern survivors of the Cultural Revolution, are aghast. The writer-director, Alice Wu, fudges a lot of the basics — I never believed the heroine was really a physician — but the final, proudly public girl-on-girl smooch still jerks a tear.

Saving Face
  • Movie
  • 90 minutes