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Saving Face

Saving Face film poster
Directed by Alice Wu
Produced by Will Smith
James Lassiter
Teddy Zee
Written by Alice Wu
Starring Michelle Krusiec
Joan Chen
Lynn Chen
Music by Anton Sanko
Cinematography Harlan Bosmajian
Editing by Susan Graef
Sabine Hoffmann
Studio Destination Films
Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics
Release date(s) September 12, 2004
Running time 91 minutes
Country  United States
Language English, Mandarin, Shanghainese

Saving Face is a 2004 American romantic comedy drama film directed by Alice Wu. The film focuses on Wilhelmina, a young Chinese-American surgeon; her unwed, pregnant mother; and her dancer girlfriend.

The name itself is a reference to the pan-East Asian social concept of face.



Saving Face follows Wilhelmina, a young Chinese-American surgeon as she deals with her unwed mother's pregnancy, and the obligations of her dancer girlfriend Vivian. Wil struggles with allocating time between her mother, who is shunned by the Chinese-American community for being pregnant and unwed and thus has come to live with Wil, and her girlfriend, Vivian, whom she presents to her mother as only a friend. At the same time, Wil's mother must decide whether the demands of her father's reputations, or the demands of her own heart, are more important. Wil's mother soon realizes that she must marry a man named Cho to regain her father's "face" and not be an embarrassment. Wil then finds out that her mother is in love with someone else and rushes to break up her wedding. At the same time Wil loses Vivian because she is afraid of going public so Vivian leaves for Paris. After three months, Vivian's and Wil's mothers reunite the two at a party and they end up kissing in front of everyone in the center of the dance floor.


Alice Wu, who directed the movie, wrote the script several years earlier, drawing on her own experiences "coming out."[1] In 2001, the script won the CAPE screenwriting award, which led to the production of the film. Filming began in fall 2003 on the $2.5 million project.[2]

Featuring the New York Chinese-American community, the film is in a mixture of Mandarin Chinese and English.



Saving Face premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on 12 September 2004, and made its way around the independent film circuit, screening at Sundance Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival et al; before going into a very limited release in the US on 27 May 2005.[3]

Box Office

Saving Face initially opened at only 6 theaters, making $75,104 (averaging $12,517/theater) in its opening weekend, and went on to gross $1,187,266 from 56 theaters in its theatrical run.[4] It grossed an additional $49,252 in the UK, for a worldwide gross of $1,236,518.[4]

Critical Reception

The critical reaction to the movie was mostly positive, with most critics praising the tender romance and the light-hearted comedy, whereas, some critics lambasted it for lack of depth and a "soap opera" like ending.

Stephen Holden of the New York Times,[5] Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe,[6] Ed Park of Village Voice,[7] among others, gave positive reviews, with Holden in particular calling it an 'amiable' romance spanning three generations of Chinese-Americans.[5]

Jonathan Rosenbaum of Chicago Reader, was notably critical of the film,[8] especially the latter half, terming it as collapsing into "nonsense".[8]
It currently holds a rating of 86% at Rotten Tomatoes,[9] and 65% at Metacritic.[10]


Saving Face was nominated for the Breakthrough Director Award at the 2005 Gotham Awards,[11] the Viewer's Choice Award and the Best Actress Award for Michelle Krusiec at the 2005 Golden Horse Film Festival,[11] and the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film in Limited Release at the 2006 GLAAD Media Awards.[11] Out of these, it won the Viewer's Choice Award at the 2005 Golden Horse Film Festival.[11]

External links


  1. ^ Johnson, G. Allen (June 6, 2005). "Alice Wu saved up her own doubts and struggles and turned them into the new comedy 'Saving Face'". San Francisco Chronicle.  
  2. ^ Leibowitz, Ed (May 29, 2005). "Kissing Vivian Shing". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-06.  
  3. ^ "Saving Face (2004)- Release dates". IMDB. Retrieved 2009-07-17.  
  4. ^ a b "Saving Face (2005)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-07-17.  
  5. ^ a b Holden, Stephen (27 May 2005). "Juggling Her Chinese Clan, Gay Lover, Pregnant Mom". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 July 2009.  
  6. ^ Morris, Wesley (10 June 2005). "Supporting cast's vibrancy saves 'Face'". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 17 July 2009.  
  7. ^ Park, Ed (17 May 2005). "Film". Village Voice: pp. 1. Retrieved 17 July 2009.  
  8. ^ a b Rosenbaum, Jonathan (9 February 2007). "Saving Face". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 17 July 2009.  
  9. ^ "Saving Face". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN. Retrieved 17 July 2009.  
  10. ^ "Saving Face". Metacritic. Retrieved 17 July 2009.  
  11. ^ a b c d "Saving Face (2004)- Awards". IMDB. Retrieved 17 July 2009.  

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