DIRECTOR: lulu wang (posthumous)
starring: awkwafina, shuzhen zhao, tzi ma, and diana lin
REVIEWER: lyall carter
A Chinese family discovers their grandmother has only a short while left to live and decide to keep her in the dark, scheduling a wedding to gather before she dies.
People within and outside the film industry are lamenting the film streaming phenomenon, believing that people will only see blockbusters on the big screen and eventually small films won't get a cinematic release. Well you need to go and see small but brilliant independent movies at the cinema. The Farewell is one of those brilliant, little independent movies. Go and see it now.
Billi, a headstrong Chinese-American woman returns to China when her beloved grandmother is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Billi struggles with her family's decision to keep grandma in the dark about her own illness as they all stage an impromptu wedding to see grandma one last time.
What makes The Farewell a cinematic delight is that its a simple exploration and snapshot into the intricate and complex world of a single family over a short period of time. This beautifully drives the narrative as we witness everything that occurs in the family: all the love, inside jokes, broken relationships, and regrets. It doesn't feel like you're watching a drama. The acting is so convincing that you believe that these are real, lived in people.
At the centre of the believability is Awkwafina's performance. Its a revelation; raw, real, and completely vulnerable. Its also an intriguing insight into the lives of second generation immigrant kids, not quite enough of the culture of their ancestors and not quite enough of the culture of their new homeland.
A moving snapshot of the lives of an ordinary family at an extraordinary time, The Farewell pulls off the incredible feat of fooling you into believing that these are real life, lived in people and not just characters in a film.