Saving Face revolves around the 29 year old Chinese-American surgeon Wilhelmina. Wil's life is shaken up when her mother (Joan Chen) moves in with her and it is also revealed that Wil's mother is pregnant by an unknown father. Wil also gets a new love in her life with another Chinese-American girl Vivian. To complicate things, Wil is trying to keep the relationship secret. The question is how can Wil handle and balance these new factors in her life?
This film is a lesbian Romantic Comedy released in 2004. Directed and written by Alice Wu, the work is a lighthearted take on family and relationships as well as how people present themselves to others.
Saving Face provides examples of:
- Actor Allusion: When Wil's mom browses Chinese films, the first video she comes across is The Last Emperor.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: Wil, at the end, although Vivian is too far away to hear her.
- Bilingual Dialogue: Around 40% of the film is in Mandarin.
- Ballet: Vivian has been pushed by her dad though she prefers modern dancing.
- Black Best Friend: Jay, the next door neighbor, though he's not a particularly important character.
- Coming-Out Story: Wil's. Vivian is already out. Its a little more complicated since her mom did catch her with another woman a few years ago but refuses to acknowledge or talk about it.
- Easy Evangelism: A mild case. Wil's mom transforms the local Chinatown disapproval on her and Wil's romance in about 3 months so much that Wil and Vivian can kiss in public though there still are some people who aren't happy about it and leave.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Cho has pined for Wil's mom for 15 years. He's willing to accept the baby as his own, no questions asked. But her heart belongs to another.
- Gayngst: A little bit of it; goes hand in hand with the fact of Wil's traditional family.
- Gossipy Hens: Pretty much Wil's entire immediate and extended family - women and men alike.
- Last Minute Hookup: Although it's sort of tacked on, three months after their breakup Wil and Vivian get back together.
- Lesbian Romance: The primary plot has to do with family drama, changing attitudes in the Chinese community of Flushing, and coping with family pressures with regard to one's Forbidden Romance. One of the stories deals with Wil trying to conceal her relationship from her mother ... while her mother is living with her.
- Likes Older Women: Little Yu has a thing for much older women — though to be fair, we're discussing Joan Chen.
- Lipstick Lesbian: Both girls though Wil tends not to dress quite as feminine, a fact that her mother brings up a lot
- Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Wil's mom's dating montage.
- MayDecember Romance: Though not the way you think. Even Wil assumes immediately that her mother's boyfriend is Old Yu. It's not. It's Little Yu.
- Race for Your Love: Deconstructed, turns out that grand gestures of love does not solve underlying problems.
- Racist Grandma: Wil's mom displays some typical racism against black people. She purposely uses paper plates for Jay because she thinks he's dirty.
- Runaway Bride: Wil's mom, at the very end, sprints out of her wedding to Cho after Little Yu makes a public confession.
- Secret Relationship: Wil and Vivian, though that's only to Wil's family. Vivian's seems to be more understanding. Wil's mom and Little Yu before the events of the film.
- Smoking Hot Sex: Vivian, though Wil does smoke on her roof. Despite being a surgeon.