When 48-year-old widow Hwei-Lan Gao (Joan Chen) informs her less-than understanding father she's pregnant, he banishes her from Flushing until she remarries or proves Immaculate Conception. With nowhere else to go, Hwei-La... more »n moves in with her grown daughter, Wil (Michelle Krusiec), a Manhattan doctor who doesn't want a roommate, especially since she's met Viv (Lynn Chen), her sexy young lover. So Wil does what any dutiful child with an expectant, unmarried mother on her hands would do: she proceeds to set Hwei-Lan up with every eligible bachelor in town.« less
Jerry C. (jctea) from METAIRIE, LA Reviewed on 3/4/2012...
Very smart, funny & sexy. A good flick.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 05/27/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My 48 year old mother is pregnant, has shown up at my doorstep with a suitcase and to top it off I have just discovered the joys of love...now what am I going to do? Ma is like an alien in NYC though she has lived in Flushing Queens for years in that she speaks no English and has lived in the insular confines of her parent's home. That is until her father throws her out for not naming the father of her unborn child. Wilhelmina (Michelle Krusiec) is a surgeon, has a very nice apartment in the Lower East Side of NYC and likes Women. She has almost no free time to date, is always at the hospital working and to put it bluntly: Ma showing up on her doorstep asking for shelter is an imposition...to say the least. But, in Alice Wu's "Saving Grace" this "imposition" naturally evolves into a re-connection between Wil and her mother that also blossoms into a deeply loving and respectful relationship. Wu, who also wrote as well as directs here has fashioned a film that steers clear of the chasm of melodrama and sentimentality that often plagues this type of scenario with her crisp dialogue, acidic wit and precise directing of the mise en scene. The character of Ma is played by the hauntingly beautiful Joan Chen and in Chen's hands Ma transcends her physical and social limitations and becomes a full-bodied, open-hearted person: ready for the prospect of really living,ready to give birth and not afraid of the future and maybe even finding a father for her baby. "Saving Grace" is very wise, it is extremely charming and it is ultimately poignant in the manner of "The Joy Luck Club" or "Hanging Up." It is obvious that Wu shared a wonderful relationship with her Mother and this film stands as the ultimate Love Poem to that relationship. "
I've looked at life from both sides now
Junglies | Morrisville, NC United States | 10/17/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a rather cute romantic comedy set in the Chinese community in one section of New York about a widowed mother who discovers that she is pregnant and who prefers not to disclose who the father of the unborn child is.
To complicate matters, her daughter is a successful doctor who has great potential in her chosen profession who does not have the time or apparent inclination to seek out a mate for herself.
The choice of New York as the backdrop for this tale is symbolic in the city's role as a gateway to the new world. The tale itself is replete with contrasts of new versus old culture, old family forms and authority structures versus the new, old versus new cultures etc. In one scene mother and daughter are having two conversations with|not with each other: the mother addresses her daughter in Chinese, the daughter addresses her mother in English.
As the movie proceeds the viewer is drawn into the tale almost imperceptibly so much so that one begins to empathise with each of the characters rather than take sides. Joan Chen is in superb form as the restrained mother, keeping her secret but managing all the while to maintain face for the family name. Her cautious daughter, torn as it were, between old and new, is often uncertain about the direction in which to go but which ultimately achieves resolution in the final scene.
This is a story of love and life cutting across conventional and cultural boundaries. The tale is told in a gentle and charming way, lending poise to the proceedings and allowing for the possibility for change to be affected by the rather revolutionary actions of an individual and for gradual but significant cultural changes to occur which are, in their own way rather monumental.
The movie kept my attention throughout and although there are a number of minor issues which drew my attention I did not find them sufficently distracting to disturb my enjoying. Although lightweight in a way it is a pleasant experience which throws some light on a number of important social issues. Although my 11 year old son was disinclined towatch my fifteen year old daughter enjoyed the movie and was comfortable with the issues exposed.
Funny and poignant
Erica Anderson | Minneapolis, MN | 06/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I recently had the immense pleasure of seeing "Saving Face" a few days ago. I must say it is refreshing to see a Chinese film where the writing is consistent and good as is the acting. What makes "Saving Face" even more special is that two of the main characters Wil (Michelle Krusiec) and Vivian (Lynn Chen)are lovers. To see two Asian women as lovers on the big screen is quite the momentous occasion for Asian and homsexual people alike.
The film takes place in Flushings, New York. Wil is a surgical resident who is forced to take in her mother Ma (Joan Chen), a 48 year old widow, when it is revealed that she is pregnant and refuses to tell her father who the father of her unborn child is. Ma is disowned therefore ends up moving in with Wil. This happens just right around the time when Wil meets Vivian (Lynn Chen) and begins to fall for her.
I found the writing of the film very consistent and does a good job of covering all the bases from Wil's relationships with both Ma and Vivian. This is the first Chinese film that I have seen in a year where the writing is consistent (unlike "Hero" and "The House of Flying Daggers"). I thought Wil's struggle to try to decide to either follow her heart or to conform to the expectations of her family. She eventually makes that decision in the film. While the question of who was the father of Ma's unborn child was in the film, the issue did not take front burner and was merely part of the overall scheme of the film for both Ma and Wil which was to be happy or to conform to their Chinese roots which basically is the overall storyline of the film. Ma and Wil have to decide to whether to deny their happiness by conforming to their Chinese roots or to embrace the personal happiness they had discovered.
All the actors put in excellent performances. Joan Chen was extremely funny as Ma. Her scene in the video store was quite funny. I also loved her comments about Wil's neighbor Jay when he comes over for dinner. She is unapologetic and yet honest but Jay doesn't know what she is saying since Ma doesn't speak english. While it does seem unbelievable that Wil is a surgeon in training, somehow the idea works thanks to Michelle Krusiec. Lynn Chen simply shines in this film as the stunning ballerina Vivian.
As an Asian woman, I am thrilled to see a film that focuses around Asians hit the theatres. I am even more thrilled that the writing is excellent as were the performances. While I do not go for romantic comedies in general, "Saving Face" is one of the few romantic comedies that I enjoyed."
Dogville | Sunny Island | 10/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Alice Wu has done what Lee Ang has done for Chinese directors and actors. A poignant tale of cultural clashes versus the fulfilment of traditional Chinese expectations, the film talks about a middle age widow who becomes unexpectedly pregnant much to the chagrin of her professor father who worries about losing face. Meanwhile, her grown-up surgeon daughter is battling coming public with her lesbianism as well as mending the broken fence when she admits to her mother of her socially stigmatised inclinations.
Interweaved in between are plenty of East-meets-West humour and impeccably fine acting coming from the stellar cast, most notably Joan Chen's role as the widow whose funny and unnerving ways also show a vulnerable and lonesome side when torn between conforming to her authoritarian father's ways once again and finding the freedom that she's in dire need of. Chen gives her best as both a subserviant daughter and a straight-faced mother. Daughter Wil played by Michelle Krusiec and her lesbian lover played by Lynn Chen also lend great support to the film which is ultimately bittersweet. (A)"
First time filmmaker Alice Wu comes up with a loving romanti
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 10/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It was not until I watched the special features on the "Saving Face" DVD that I realized the reason it was in my rental queue was that I had gone in and added a whole bunch of movies from this year's Sundance Film Festival. So I started watching this 2005 film knowing nothing more than Joan Chen played the mother of a dutiful daughter and expecting something more along the lines of "Eat Drink Man Woman" than "Kissing Jessica Stein." There is something to be said for watching a movie in blissful ignorance in a world where all too often the best bits are already crammed into the film's trailer, and watching first time writer-director Alice Wu's romantic comedy without any idea of what it was really about was a delightful surprise.
Wil (Michelle Krusied) is a talented young surgeon who seems to be too busy with her work to find a husband, while her Ma (Chen) works in a department store. Pointedly both jobs require women to save the faces of others, but the title of the film really comes into play when Ma moves in with Wil because the 48-year-old widow is pregnant and has been kicked out of the house of her father (Jin Wang). Ma refuses to say who the father is and until she has a husband the shame is too great for the family (read: for grandfather) to bear. So now Wil and Ma are living together and talking about soy sauce rather than about anything important like the baby.
Then mother and daughter have awakenings of their hearts. For Wil it is meeting Vivian (Lynn Chen), a ballet dancer who she keeps running into at the hospital. There is instant chemistry between the two, but Wil is reticent about anything even approaching public displays of affection. Meanwhile, Ma discovers there are more Chinese movies at the local video store than "The Last Emperor" and "The Joy Luck Club," and is soon hooked on Chinese soap operas. As Wil pushes her mother to actually go out on dates for the first time in her life, she makes an emotional commitment to Vivian. But both mother and daughter seem equally incapable of letting themselves find true happiness. Then fate finds ways of pushing both of them over the edge.
"Saving Face" is filled with lots of character driven humor, which makes sense given all the colorful characters Wu has created to tell her tale. One of the strengths of the story is that even though these characters are all so Chinese (it is normal for Ma to speak in Mandarin while Wil's half of the conversation is mostly in English), there is still something universal about the people and the situations. Most viewers will not be surprised that Joan Chen is still a beautiful woman, especially in some of the dresses she wears in the later part of the film, but will be surprised that she is such a comedian as Ma. Wu evidences a deft touch for using camera shots and cutting in the editing room to make the humor work. Another strength is that Wil's relationship with Ma is as crucial as the one with Vivian. The movie is rated R for some sexuality and language, which is interesting because it also includes a nude scene, albeit one that is cute and endearing (with a funny payoff), because Wil and Vivian make such a sweet couple.
The DVD extras include Wu and the cast taking their film to Sundance and a standard behind the scenes featurette. What is missing is an actual trailer for "Saving Face"; I assume there is one out there I would like to see it now that I have caught the film. Wu does not talk as much as you would like during the commentary track, but you will get a much fuller appreciation of the calculated way music is used in the film and learn that the scene that reminds you of "The Graduate" is supposed to remind you of "The Graduate." "Saving Face" is one of those films that you like even better the second time you watch it because you have a better understanding of how well it is constructed and will be even more impressed with Wu as both a first time director and first time screenwriter."