Title – The Farewell (2019)
Director – Lulu Wang (Touch)
Cast – Awkwafina, Shuzen Zhao, Tzi Ma, Diana Lin
Plot – Chinese American Billi (Awkwafina) and her family head back to their home town in China under the guise of a wedding banquet, to spend time with their ailing mother/grandmother Nai Nai (Zhao), as they decide against telling her she only has months to live after being diagnosed with cancer.
“I know it was hard. It was hard for us to”
Review by Eddie on 12/12/2019
Based on director Lulu Wang’s real life experiences, The Farewell has become one of 2019’s most beloved surprise hits and for good reason, as Wang’s lovingly crafted and passionate family drama is a truly heart-warming tale.
Featuring a breakout performance from rising star Awkwafina, who shows a completely different side to her acting self as the lost yet likeable Billi, in what’s a role far removed from her notable turns in the likes of Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians, The Farewell is the type of deeply personal and soulful human centric film that can only come from a place of love and respect.
Based on what we’re told is a “true lie”, The Farwell see’s Billi and her mother and father Haiyan and Lu Jian (played wonderfully by Tzi Ma and Diana Lin) traveling back to their hometown of Changchun in China under the guise of a wedding banquet event, that masks the fact they are actually back home to spend time with their cancer ridden family matriarch Nai Nai, of whom they are keeping in the dark about her diagnoses.
It doesn’t exactly sound like the premise for a funny, truthful and emotionally rich narrative but Wang’s ability to respectfully acknowledge Chinese tradition and beautifully capture the strong family ties and Chinese ways of life, ensures that The Farewell feels like a fresh and unpredictable piece of movie-making, in what’s usually a by the numbers family drama fair.
In many ways The Farwell has the intimacy and true to life nature of a documentary, as we very quickly begin to feel like a fly on the wall to Billi’s life at this time as she try’s hard to deal with feeling like an early life failure and a bad granddaughter to a person she respects and it’s in this respect that The Farwell well and truly unearths the true talents of both Wang and Awkwafina in what’s likely to be a busy awards season run and future establishing project for the two industry figures.
We’ve often been gifted in times past to comedians genuinely surprising us all with their abilities to turn funny and manic persona’s into seriously impressive dramatic turns (think Jim Carey in The Truman Show or Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting) and it’s no different here with Awkwafina, who dials her established brand right down to ground level to create a thought-provoking and awards calibre turn around an ensemble that makes for one of the year’s best. On the back of this effort, she’s announced herself to the world as a seriously diverse talent.
Final Say –
It may not break any new ground but The Farewell’s abundance of heart, soul and great performances makes it a highly enjoyable dramatic treat, that firmly places Lulu Wang and her star Awkwafina on the path to super-stardom in the process.
4 karaoke performances out of 5