The Farewell (2019)

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Photo from Variety

The Farewell is a film centered around the true story of a Chinese family who do not tell their grandmother that she has lung cancer. They travel to China to say their goodbyes by covering it as a wedding. This secret however hangs a huge toll over the family as they debate whether or not it is right for their “Nai Nai” to know.

Awkwafina is at her best here as Billi. She is mostly known for comedy and though I haven’t seen her in much, but she proves here that she can be not only lead a film but make the turn to dramatic. But this is also a great ensemble piece, Zhao Shuzhen who plays Nai Nai stands out, along with  Billi’s dad, Tzi Ma.

The relationship between Billi and her Nai Nai is very heartwarming and reminded me a bit of my relationship with my grandma. You know that they really love each other despite their long distance. And while they are the focus of the film, I also enjoyed the small moments of the other family dynamics. Whether it’s between Billi and her dad, Billi’s dad and uncle, Nai Nai and her sister, or her goofy cousin and his soon-to-be wife.

The film also gets you thinking about mortality and how difficult it is to cope about a loved one’s death or their potential upcoming death. And while death is a horrible thing to cope with, it shows how it can bring a family back together and how important that is.

The only super minor nitpick is that I could have done a bit less with the medium shots of Awkwafina and her family looking directly at the camera. But I understand why they were included – so the audience can see their reactions to their continuous lies and the weight that displays inside of them.

Overall, The Farewell pulls at your heartstrings and is a well-done and directed film from Lulu Wang. The film makes you reflect on death and family, and opens your eyes to Eastern traditions and culture. I give The Farewell an A.

The Farewell will be released on July 12, 2019 and I highly recommend that you catch this in theaters if you can.

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