When someone is ill in our family, no one discusses it. We all know, but no one acknowledges it. I’ve always thought this was very odd and believed my family was crazy as hell. Nope, the Asians are right there with me and they take it a step further. They straight up lie about it. Yup, they decide to not tell the ill person what their fate is. Which leaves the question of how different cultures deal with disease and is a good lie still a lie?
Based on Director Lulu Wang’s family, The Farewell follows a family gathering in China, for a wedding disguised as a secret last visit with the family matriarch, who’s been diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer. Nai Nai doesn’t know she’s dying, yet her sister, children and grandchildren have all conspired to keep her from finding out, as is sometimes tradition with terminally ill elderly people in China. Crazy right? The Farewell is crazy good and so is Awkwafina, who is having one hell of a joy ride. Right of the heels of the mad success of Crazy Rich Asians, this doll has flipped the script turning a very heartfelt dramatic performance that will break your heart.
My favorite scene in the whole movie is the karaoke at the wedding which is pure comedy for a multitude of reasons and had me dying with laughter. At the end of the day, The Farewell dramatizes with humor how life’s not just about what you do, but how you do it.
Don’t get me wrong. I laughed my buns off, but that last moment with Nai Nai had me once again in the ugly cry. Thank you LuLu Wang for sharing the most personal part of you with all of its complexities, humor, and of course your beautiful Nai Nai through The Farewell.
Lulu Wang broke it down even further discussing how this film originated from a podcast (This American Life), the disparity with female filmmakers and critics, and why paying tribute to her Grandma was so important. Take a listen..