Don’t Say Zài Jià (Film Thoughts: The Farewell)

farewell1One of the things I love most about independent cinema is that it tells all these small interesting stories, and a lot of times it makes you think about what would you do if you were in the same situation. I am so Americanized now that the concept of what happens in Lulu Wang’ ‘The Farewell’ seems so foreign to me, but really, it shouldn’t. In the film, a young lady’s grandmother is diagnosed with cancer (Stage 4, lung) but her family has decided not to tell her about it. (I mean, can you imagine that happening int he United States, with our strange HIPAA laws?)  As a result, her family organizes a fake wedding, so they could all be together to say goodbye to her.

Awkwafina plays BIlli, the granddaughter, and for the most part, she essays the role. Billy is required to be both stoic and empathetic, as she cannot be transparent that her grandmother cam figure out the truth. Awkwafina is fine, but her plain face can sometimes come across as brittle, even petulant, which is the opposite of what she should be delivering. It doesn’t help that the part is underwritten, as we do not get proper context as to what these relationships mean to her life.

I loved the dinner scene where the family volleys ideas about how Chinese people are still Chinese even as they leave for other countries. I cannot help but identify with some of the points being thrown around.

In this summer of sequels and tepid blockbusters, ‘The Farewell’ i fantastic counter programming. It brings you to another world, presents other ideas that would challenge your own, and the characters are till human beings that one is able to connect with. Go see this.


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