In New York, Billi Wang (Awkwafina) hopes to be accepted for a Guggenheim scholarship, but on the same day that she’s rejected, she discovers that her family have been keeping a painful secret from her. It turns out that Billi’s favourite grandmother only has a few months left to live and in a bid to disguise the truth, the family have decided to stage a wedding as a joyful pretext to see her one final time.
However, Billi has not been invited. Fearing that she will break down and reveal the true, tragic nature of their gathering, Billi decides to attend anyway…
…is one cinematic gathering you really should make the effort to join.
Director Lulu Wang’s part-inspired-by-real events, comedy-drama is a touching portrait of a family walking on eggshells – eggshells all of which they’ve intentionally laid themselves. With a multitude of other deftly-served hot potatoes like cultural identity and alienation thrown-in for good measure, the real question of Wang’s movie is “can a lie become a truth when it is repeatedly told with love?” And in this respect ‘The Farewell’ is a wholly pleasant fiction.
Beautifully shot, edited and acted, this is a gentle and sensitively observed dark comedy, which causes all the fragilities of Billi’s family to crack under pressure. Holding on tightest and hardest to their lie is the sympathetic yet critical performance of Awkwafina as Billi. Better known for her rapping and quick-fire repartee, Awkwafina’s performance is a slow-burning ache that truly pulls at the consciences of all those around her. Tenderly supported by Zhao Shuzhen as her unknowing grandmother, Tzi Ma as her collapsing father and Diana Lin as Billi’s conflicted mother, ‘The Farewell’ is one cinematic gathering you really should make the effort to join.
A really beautiful and tenderly observed companion to Oscar nominee ‘Parasite‘, ‘The Farewell’ is the film that really should have seen Awkwafina leave with a golden statuette. Yet, with more performances from her like this, hopefully, it won’t be too long before Academy members will have to reconsider their future nominations.