Based on a true story by director Lulu Wang, The Farewell is an intergenerational comedy-drama and an engaging look at both tradition and changing times. Set mostly in China, it explores the relationship of a Chinese-born American woman, Billi (played by Awkwafina), and her grandmother Nai Nai (Zhao Shuzhen). Emigrating to America with her parents at a young age, Billi has fond memories of her grandmother, and they speak on the phone often. Unbeknownst to Nai Nai, she has terminal cancer. The family is keeping the secret from her following the Chinese custom of not notifying elders of their imminent death. Under the guise of Billi’s cousin’s wedding, the entire family gathers in Changchun to spend what they believe are Nai Nai’s final weeks. Billi wants to reveal the truth to her beloved grandmother, but her parents warn her not to interfere with tradition.
I really enjoyed the movie, which is in English and Chinese with subtitles. Awkwafina’s performance won a Golden Globe this year, and the movie was nominated for best foreign film. It also won AARP’s Best Intergenerational Film award. The Farewell is new at the library and worth seeing.
Reviewed by Sue Petrofsky, Library Assistant