31 December 2019

Film review: The Farewell (2019) by Lulu Wang, *****


Synopsis

In this funny, uplifting tale based on an actual lie, Chinese-born, U.S.-raised Billi (Awkwafina) reluctantly returns to Changchun to find that, although the whole family knows their beloved matriarch, Nai-Nai, has been given mere weeks to live, everyone has decided not to tell Nai Nai herself.

To assure her happiness, they gather under the joyful guise of an expedited wedding, uniting family members scattered among new homes abroad. As Billi navigates a minefield of family expectations and proprieties, she finds there’s a lot to celebrate: a chance to rediscover the country she left as a child, her grandmother’s wondrous spirit, and the ties that keep on binding even when so much goes unspoken. 

With The Farewell, writer/director Lulu Wang has created a heartfelt celebration of both the way we perform family and the way we live it, masterfully interweaving a gently humorous depiction of the good lie in action with a richly moving story of how the family can unite and strengthen us, often in spite of ourselves.

Review

A deep insight into traditional Chinese values and emotions. Definitely uplifting especially considering that it is liberally based on a true story. When do you tell the truth to someone who is about to die? In China, as in Italy, often the answer is never. In the US it is right away. One can argue for and against each way of doing it.


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