'Based on an actual lie,' Lulu Wang's The Farewell focuses on Chinese-American Billi and her family's elaborate lie in the name of providing its terminally-ill matriarch with a 'farewell' rid of grief. Billi's cousin is made to marry his girlfriend of a few months to disguise the unexpected family reunion.
Billi, played by rapper-turned-actress Awkwafina, is a first-generation Chinese-American immigrant who first moved to America aged six. Like many immigrant kids, Billi closes the vast geographical distance with her loved ones through frequent phone calls. It is in one of these calls wherein Billi’s touching relationship with her Nai Nai (the Mandarin term for Grandmother) is introduced. Despite the lie being no secret to the viewer, the reveal of Nai Nai’s terminal illness still pulls at the heartstrings.
Due to Billi’s deep-rooted attachment to her grandmother, her parents inhibit her from flying with them back to China — fearing she will be unable to keep up the well-intentioned lie. As Billi’s mother Jian proclaims, “it’s not the cancer that kills you; it’s the fear.” Despite her parents’ wishes, Billi fumbles her way back to Changchun.
An account of Lulu Wang’s own life, The Farewell examines the complexities surrounding one’s attempts at balancing two entirely different worlds. Wang not only successfully straddles the balance between comedy and drama, but she also triumphantly explores the famed dichotomy between the ‘east’ and the ‘west’ in such a tender and loving way, with an evident authentic understanding of the immigrant experience.
Cast choice- Turn Up (10/10)
Awkwafina provides a career-changing performance.
Acting- Turn Up (9/10)
Originality- Turn Up (10/10)
Script- Turn Up (9/10)
Familial love and empathy ooze from this wholly original, semi-autobiographical script.
Overall rating: 10/10
Would we watch again?
Absolutely. Lulu Wang has crafted a modern classic that will undoubtedly make you cry (both from sadness and laughter!)
Turn-ups and turn-downs?
Turn up reviews recommend you TURN UP to see this movie. So grab some popcorn and maybe bring some friends along with you.
So should you TURN UP to see this movie or TURN DOWN an invite?
Review by Graciela Mae