Director: Lulu Wang

Starring: Awkwafina, Shuzhen Zhao, Tzi Ma

Year: 2019

Awkwafina continues her meteoric rise, although that may just be among film nerds; I don’t think your mom & dad have heard of her, nor have they seen her few films.  But that’s OK, they will, she’s definitely a talented comedienne growing into a legitimate actress, even if it takes some time for her to polish all the edges.  She shows in The Farewell that she’s already done some buffing, and that she already had the inherent gift to move beyond shtick into more emotional territory.  She’s already won the Golden Globe, not that that means too much, and she might be a contender for an Oscar as well, if that means any more.  But she’s winning our hearts, I guess that’s what counts, and what’s funny is that she’s not even the best part of this film.

Billi and her parents have lived in New York for a long time, moving from China many years ago; her father is a translator, she is an aspiring writer.  Billi speaks the old language imperfectly, but enough to talk to her grandmother back home, and they continue a loving relationship even though so many miles separate them.  When Nai Nai is diagnosed with cancer, her granddaughter is devastated, and wants to be with her right away.  But the family has other plans; lie to Nai Nai, tell her she’s fine, gather for a wedding, and say their goodbyes under the guise of a celebration.  That will be hard for Billi, she wears her emotions of her sleeve, and she & Nai Nai are close, but it might be the last gift she can give her.

This is a true story, which is wild, Lulu Wang’s family did this to her own grandmother, lying in order to save her from the fear of cancer, taking the burden upon themselves instead.  You can argue about the morals of that, Billi sure does, but ultimately you make your own decision, and it really doesn’t affect the quality of the film.  The Farewell is sweet, endearing, funny, moving, and ultimately stronger than I thought it would be.  I will say that without Nai Nai I think I would quickly forget I watched it; Shuzhen Zhao stole the show, and I think definitely overshadowed Awkwafina, who is still growing.  I liked that most of the film was in Chinese, that made perfect sense, I really felt like I was being immersed in another culture, and I would probably watch itagain because I can’t think of anything I really didn’t like, it was all so lovely and well-made.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆



By ochippie

Writer, Critic, Dad Columbus, Ohio, USA Denver Broncos, St. Louis Cardinals Colorado Avalanche, Duke Blue Devils