The film Saving Face is about representing one self’s identity. There are three motifs that allow this transformation; transportation, face and time. The central motif in the film Saving Face is transportation, which is centralized with face and time because they explain the character’s change of identity.
The motif of face represents the characters’ identity. Saving Face is an expression to keep definition. Face is a motif because face is used repeatedly, especially in close-ups to captivate the person’s identity. In the opening shot, there is a close-up on Wil’s face which she is seen wearing beauty masks to hide her true identity. The beauty mask prevents Wil from expressing her true identity because the face mask shows that Wil is living a life with a false identity. Wil has not accepted herself for her orientation and continues to mask herself because she does not have the courage to take it off. There are also close-ups on Ma’s face which explains how the mother is hiding her identity by living a life that her father requests her to live by. The close-ups on the faces show entrapment of the characters’ because they are not accepting their identity and live by the ones that their family request. The motif face explains how the characters keep an identity that society enforces them to have, not an identity that they would like to be presented by.
Face is not the central motif because face explains how the characters change their identity by using transportation. The motif of time represents how time rushes and prevents the characters from making decisions they need to make for their identity. Saving Face presents time as both linear and circular because time continues to progresses in life but there is a repetition of the characters’ being themselves. Time ages for both Wil and Ma to the point that they are running out of time to change their lives that they continue to live repeatedly with everyday. The montage in the film shows how Ma is wasting her time on the dates with men and these moments are preventing her from progressing to live an identity of her own. Because time waits for no one and progresses it leaves Ma standing still for her status. Wil is being rushed into decisions being made by her traditional mother to live a traditional housewife lifestyle. And Ma is being rushed into decisions made by her father so that he can keep his reputation.
Both Wil and Ma have been avoiding time because time is seen as an obstacle that they cannot overcome or stop at a certain phrase of the day. Cutting shows the transition of time causing the characters to change their identity because during the day the characters feel restricted to keep a reputation by following a daily routine but during the night the characters escape to live their lives freely without those restrictions. The motif that allows the characters to do so is transportation because time explains how the characters change their identity by using transportation during different times. Transportation is the central motif because it allows the characters to change their identities. Wil has been taking the subway as her transportation to get from one place to another from morning to night. Her using transportation to get from place to place impacts how her identity changes from the morning, when she is looking after her mother and going to work, to her identity from the night, when she is alone with Vivian.
The subway allows Wil to have two different identities of her living life for her work to living life for her love relationship with Vivian. The transportation changes who she is as a person. Since the subway is buried underground it represents how Wil is keeping grief from not showing her identity. Also, the airplane that Vivian was going onto to fly to Paris changes Vivian’s mind about Wil because the airplane made her physically move on from her love relationship with Wil. The airplane made Vivian move on physically and emotionally because the plane increased the distance between them and has changed Vivian so that she no longer will wait for Wil and move on with her life. Transportation shows how Wil can show her face, her true identity, at a specific time because transportation allows her to escape her identity. This demonstrates the representation of one’s identity in the film Saving Face. The three motifs that allow this transformation are transportation, face and time. Saving Face central motif is transportation, which is an essential clarification along with face and time to explain the character’s change of identity.