See it Again – Saving Face

Rotten Tomatoes Freshness Meter

Critics – 87%

Audience – 87%

What  You Should Know

Saving Face is the best kind of independent film. It’s funny, touching and unexpected. It accomplishes these things without being ugly, off-putting or in-your-face about being a low-budget production (for a wonderful, current example of this I give you – Detachment). The film has an unusual story that unfolds in a wonderfully a-typical fashion. A third or more of the film is subtitled.

Why You Should Reconsider

I know, this film has very high ratings from both critics and audience members so why is it here? My guess is most people never heard of Saving Face. This is the type of low-key independent film that wins awards, gets great reviews and then fades quietly out of sight. This is an incredible waste.

The few people who expressed disappointment with this film felt that it was too “Hollywood” in it’s ending (it does not end in abject pain and misery for everyone involved – sorry independent movies but that is your go-to ending). Some felt that this was just a poor man’s version of early Ang Lee films, which is an incredibly odd statement since the only real similarity here is that the characters are Chinese.

You should reconsider seeing this movie again because of how this story is told. It has a very slow, controlled pace that is very sure and pulls the viewer smoothly along. The characters are well-defined and the performances are a treat to watch. As with any of the movies listed in See It Again I believe if you come to this film with an open and accepting mind you will not be disappointed.


I would imagine that many sites and video stores have this film categorized in either their independent section or their gay/lesbian section. While both are technically correct for this film, Saving Face is a much less aggressive, more palatable film (for people who typically watch mainstream movies) than many that fit into these two categories. That is to say that there is no agenda with this movie, it is not trying to make a bold, progressive statement about art or acceptance. This is a story about family, about community and about finding a way to be true to yourself even when these truths violate the norms of these groups.

Saving Face walks a wonderfully fine line between mainstream and independent cinema and while some might find this to be a fault, in either direction, I think most will find watching this movie to be a rewarding experience.

Author: John Ryan Sullivan

I am a writer and filmmaker.

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