Plot – The Farewell: A Chinese family discovers their grandmother has only a short while left to live and make the difficult decision to keep her in the dark, scheduling a wedding to gather before she dies.
Director – Lulu Wang
Released – 2019
The Farewell, directed by Lulu Wang, played a constant emotional tug-of-war with my heart, leaving me smiling one minute and on the verge of tear the next. Based on Wang’s actual life, Billi (Awkwafina), a Chinese immigrant living in America travels to China along with her family to celebrate the wedding of her brother, But when news that her grandmother only has a few months left to live, the family must grapple with the fact that in Chinese culture, it’s better from the community deal with this burden than the person who is sick, thus keeping the diagnosis a secret.
What makes The Farewell so touching is its simplicity, with the clash between Western and Eastern sensibilities most starkly seen in Billi. Awkwafina fully transforms into the character, her eyes wonderfully conveying the indescribable pain that Billi to keep bottled up and the love she has for her grandmother. Wang further amplifies the emotions of the movie by stripping it back to its bare bones. More than once choosing to linger on Billi’s face in silence, giving the viewer a glimpse of the inner turmoil going on in her heart. Additionally, The Farewell benefits from some gorgeous cinematography by Anna Franquesa and Solano, helping to amplify the actors’ emotions greatly. Often you will find the camera framing a character in the centre of the screen, either surrounded by a sea of other people or alone in their thoughts.
The entire film is bittersweet, wonderfully witty, atmospheric and heart-wrenchingly powerful. It’s a celebration of life, traditional eastern values and how they conflict with western values, without taking a side which is better. I can’t recommend this movie highly enough.
If you liked – Crazy Rich Asians, Parasite, Never Rarely Sometimes Always