Billi (Awkwafina) and her family return
to China to say goodbye to her dying grandmother, who is completely unaware that she has weeks to live.
As someone who was very close with her grandmother, this film deeply moved me. But it is not just because of my personal connection to the film’s central relationship – it’s because of The Farewell‘s raw authenticity. The way each member of the family interacted with not only each other, but the complex emotions of grief, felt so real.
It wasn’t a group of actors sitting around a table. It felt like we were peering into a true familial experience, which is so rare to experience in film these days. Every expression, laughter, emotion, nuance, heartache — it all felt very genuine. Naturally, The Farewell is a tearjerker, but the comedic moments are what will touch your heart.
Awkwafina gives a stellar performance but the real scene stealer is first time actress, Shuzen Zhou who plays the grandmother, Nai Nai. Her charm, charisma and lovable energy will leave you smiling.
But what is most fascinating about The Farewell is the way writer and director, Lulu Wang, has captured the juxtaposed dynamics of Chinese and American culture. The East and West handle topics so differently that it was interesting to get such an in-depth look into how mortality and family dynamics are dealt with.
Although I found the film a little slow moving, it is a beautiful and moving watch worth your time.
Just remember to bring tissues…and hug your grandmother.
Final Thoughts: The Farewell will leave you in tears and pull at your heart strings in all the right ways.