Audience advice – pack your glasses for this film as a large portion does have subtitles. The Farewell follows Billi, a Chinese-American living in New York, and her return to China after learning that her grandmother has cancer, a secret that the family has decided not to tell the grandmother. What Billi is told is, “Chinese people have a saying: When people get cancer, they die. It’s not the cancer that kills them — it’s the fear.” It is made clear throughout the film how strong of a relationship Billi has with her grandmother and this “lie” is a point of contention with the family.
The film starts off with Billi in New York, on the phone with her grandmother. Her grandmother asks if she’s wear earrings, because if she is then someone will “rip out your earrings and you go to the hospital for surgery!” This idea is so grandma-like to me. When you have the person in your life and you know they are being absurd, but it comes from a good place. When her grandmother asks her if she’s wearing a hat in the same breath, Billi lies to appease her. But that’s the catch- when is a lie okay, and when is it not?
Billi is played by Awkwafina, who was seen last on the big screen in Crazy Rich Asians. The part is played so flawlessly, I would have believed this was her personal story to tell. Billi is hilarious and relatable. In a film that could have been dark, she truly brought lightness to it. The film did a wonderful job of breaking up sadness with fluid humor.
Movie goer Claire has returned to Coronado from a year studying abroad which made her take particularly interesting. “I think it is a really touching story about how close she is with her grandma. It is very relatable. It was also interesting to see another culture and the different mindsets.”
If you’ve seen the movie, what do you think of the lie?
Movie times: click here
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Run Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Director: Lulu Wang
Actors: Awkwafina, Tzi Ma, Diana Lin
Rating: Rated PG for thematic material, brief language and some smoking.
Fun Fact: The film is a semi-autobiography on the Director/Writer, Lulu Wang’s life.