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SAVING FACE

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 With a nod toward the televised soap operas popular in Chinese-American culture, Alice Wu's debut feature ups those traditional family melodramas about marriage, tradition and honor a notch or two. Manhattanite Wil (Michelle Krusiec) is a dutiful daughter, a rising surgeon, beautiful -- and quietly gay. Though unmarried, she's not half as disgraceful as her widowed 48-year-old mother (Joan Chen), who's pregnant and not saying by whom. Tossed from her father's home, Ma moves in with Wil, complicating her burgeoning relationship with a young dancer who is also the daughter of Wil's boss. Despite the added outrageousness, Saving Face is at heart a familiar but pleasant comedy-drama about a tight-knit, traditional ethnic community having to embrace good people who don't necessarily fit into prescribed slots. Its lessons are obvious: lying makes things worse, follow one's heart, and any crisis is better faced with elaborately prepared food. In English and Mandarin, with subtitles. Starts Fri., July 15. Squirrel Hill (AH)

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