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Parents' Guide to

Saving Face

By Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Chinese-American mom and daughter reconnect.

Movie R 2005 91 minutes
Saving Face Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 17+

Nice portrayal of real and imperfect people

I found the theme very liberating as multiple characters try to navigate their lives away from just trying to honor their elders towards finding their own meaning in life. The struggle and stress and at times depression are palpable. And the self discovery is liberating. As far as maturity, I think this is a little beyond PG-13, and not because the scene in bed depicts a lesbian couple. In fact, I think that is irrelevant to the rating. This scene is described as artful, which it is, but it is also very passionate and a little more than just a glimpse of their breasts. It is certainly not overly gratuitous either. It has a good balance, but to my way of thinking, a bit more mature. The unseen porn video is also very graphic in its audio representation. But it effectively shows the mentality of the depressed and repressed middle aged pregnant mom and, along with all the soap operas she watches, it paints a picture of her life of yearning and emptiness. Overall, I found the characters and plot intriguing as they each struggle to sort out their passions and identities over time and how this sends ripples through their close knit community. A lot of courage is needed and their choices are transformative. I think these messages are very positive and validating.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
age 13+

Saving Face is a good film about a complicated intergenerational family

Saving Face is beautiful take on a complicated intergenerational immigrant family. As far as I can tell it should have been rated PG-13. There are only a few scenes of note for concerned parents. First, there are brief glimpses of nipples when two characters are in bed together (no grinding, panting or excessively sexual shots etc.). The mother initially struggles accepting a black neighbor who she distrusts for racial reasons. The mother buys a pornographic film and watches it at one point when she is bored. No images of the film can be seen but heavy panting is heard. Finally there might be one or two f-words. Honestly, I think the film would be PG-13 if the daughter was in a straight relationship.

This title has:

Great messages

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (2 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Alice Wu's sharp first feature brings together many relationship concerns. Though SAVING FACE includes a few typical romantic comedic elements -- the supportive next-door neighbor, gossipy community ladies, irascible grandfather, mistaken identities -- it also provides a nuanced look at immigrant transitions and at last, a layered, detailed role for wonderful Joan Chen.

The movie is especially smart about various concepts of "face," as reputation and legacy, but also as the means by which everyone of every culture gets through the days, performing in order to please others, to get ahead, to survive. Saving face is at once an acknowledgment of ritual and collective identity, a self-reinvention, a reclaiming of roots and resistance simultaneously. Against this backdrop, Wil and Vivian's romance becomes secondary to Wil and Ma's relationship.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: May 27, 2005
  • On DVD or streaming: October 18, 2005
  • Cast: Joan Chen , Lynn Chen , Michelle Krusiec
  • Director: Alice Wu
  • Inclusion Information: Female directors, Lesbian directors, Asian directors
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 91 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: some sexuality and language
  • Last updated: June 2, 2023

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