We went to see the movie, The Farewell and I’m glad we did. It was a powerful, thoughtful, incredibly well acted movie that really makes you think. The plot is that a Chinese family discovers that Nai Nai, their “matriarch,” the grandmother, has terminal cancer and has less than three months to live. But apparently the Chinese way—they stress this several times in the movie, right from the opening—is to not tell an elderly person. Why tell them and let them stress and mourn over their last days on earth? Instead, lie, so that their last days are lived to their fullest, happy and carefree.
I wasn’t a proponent for such a course of action. I thought, Whoa! I’d want to know so that I can make sure I get any unfinished business taken care of before I leave. Not only financial stuff, but making sure I had done all those proper “people” things. As in making sure there wasn’t any nastiness left or unsaid things, any apologies I might need to have made, or anyone I needed to forgive.
And that’s just how the protagonist of “The Farewell,” Billi, feels. But after watching The Farwell? I’m not so sure. The movie makes you think. And I can’t say how it does this, or I’d be spoiling the whole thing, but let’s say this: After watching The Farewell, I think I might not want to know that my days were truly numbered after all.
But what really makes this picture is the stunningly powerful performance by Awkwafina. We know she has comedic timing second to none from movies like Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians. But darnit, girl! Who knew the level of her true acting skills? The subtlety? Her human presence versus comedic presence? Her chemistry? This woman is headed for an Oscar! Did you know she didn’t know any Chinese before making this movie? I wouldn’t have known! The entire case was good, especially a standout performance by Shuzhen Zhao as Nai Nai.
For those of you who tell me that you’re tired of action films and superhero movies and the like, or those of you like me who enjoy all kinds of movies, I recommend, The Farewell. I think you’ll be glad if you give it a chance!