Kissing My Big Fat Chinese Lesbian Wedding Like Beckham

Columbus Alive | August 25, 2005
As Saving Face unfolds, it looks to be a standard coming-out-of-age tale (a la Kissing Jessica Stein) with bonus clichés surrounding the children of immigrants trying to reconcile their Americaness with their parents’ traditions. Call it My Big Fat Chinese Lesbian Wedding.

Wil (Michelle Krusiec), a young doctor in New York City, must endure dances at the Chinese community center where the meddling biddies try to set her up with their lame bachelor sons. No one seems to sense her obvious disinterest, though they comment on the “boys’ clothes” Wil wears. And she makes googly eyes at Vivian (Lynn Chen), an old friend who recently resurfaced as a beautiful ballet dancer.

But just when you think you’ve figured out which heartwarming-comedy template first-time writer/director Alice Wu is using, she throws in a nice twist: Wil’s 48-year-old widowed mother (Joan Chen) is pregnant. The Chinese immigrant community is scandalized, and Ma is practically disowned by her traditional parents, so she moves into Wil’s apartment for some cross-cultural and cross-generational odd couple hilarity.

Wu’s debut is surprisingly polished—maybe too polished. Saving Face is tightly constructed and nicely paced, with all the expected emotional highs and lows. (There are even two musical montages: one of Wil and Vivian’s burgeoning romance, and one of Ma dating for the first time in 20 years.)

It never gets out of this formulaic rut, though. Despite the novelty of parallel parental rifts—Wil coming out of the closet, and middle-aged Ma getting pregnant—the film never elicits more than a very predictable smile.

Columbus Alive

Founded in 1983, Alive is the Capital City's oldest and only independent alternative and is known for providing a forum for the area's free thinkers. The paper's spirited and original perspective on music, arts and culture distinguish it from the...
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