SAVING FACE (Alice Wu). 91 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (July 1). For venues and times, see Movies, page 105. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Saving Face opens with Wilhelmina Pang in her bathroom, waiting for her white facial mask to dry. At some point in the writing of this film, that must have felt like a potent image, an Asian-American woman wearing a white mask in a movie all about the meanings of face. But that opening facial is exactly what's wrong with Saving Face - it's way too on-the-nose.
Wil ( Michelle Krusiec ) is a New York surgical resident whose mother ( Joan Chen ) is pestering her to find a guy and get married. But Wil likes girls and falls for a dancer ( Lynn Chen ) she keeps hidden from her traditional Chinese family - "traditional" meaning the hidebound but ultimately cute Asian clan that's become a convention in culture-clash romantic comedies.
Saving Face sidelines a juicy subplot involving the mother to follow Wil's familiar story. As acted by Krusiec, that's not so much an arc as a straight line. Still, if your own story mirrors Wil's, you might find it moving. If you've never seen a similar film, you might find it charming. And if you wait more than a week, you might find it gone.