The Farewell

The Farewell treads a path we’ve all seen before, schmaltzy family drama, the struggle of an individual against family expectations, the push and pull between the values of the East versus the West. When a Chinese family finds out its matriarch is dying, an elaborate last minute wedding is staged to bring the brood together again for time with her. Rebel Billi struggles with the dishonesty as the family worries she’ll spill the beans. Everything about this film could easily have been overplayed and cliché, which makes it all the more perfect that it’s not. Director Lulu Wang avoids any over-insistence on the subject matter, instead respecting the characters and script enough to allow for a natural unfolding. Watch particularly for some of her angle and framing choices that make straightforward scenes more interesting. Awkwafina once again turns in a stellar, nuanced performance as Billi; she doesn’t yammer about her love for her grandma or her ethical struggle, she shows it. Every character is well-developed without becoming a caricature and simple conversations about food, weight, and children’s accomplishments are recognizable from our own lives. See it because it’s warm and genuine, a true joy.

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