Opening with the title card “Based on an actual lie,” which has been adopted as the film’s tagline, Lulu Wang’s Sundance sensation The Farewell navigates the tricky terrain of withholding information from ones you love to avoid pain. In this case, it’s Awkwafina’s character who learns her family has chose to hide a cancer diagnosis from her grandmother (Zhao Shuzhen) and spend the final days celebrating instead of mourning. One of the best films I saw at Sundance this year, A24 picked it up, getting the rare PG rating, and ahead of a July release, the first trailer has arrived.
Dan Mecca said in his review, “Bittersweet, touching and always funny, The Farewell is lived-in from top to toe. While the structure allows for the ensemble cast to shine, Awkwafina is the star and more than up to the task. Wang’s trust in her actress is obvious. She made a splash last year with Ocean’s Eight and Crazy Rich Asians, but in this film she’s playing at another level. Much is put on her shoulders. Every emotional beat flows through Billi with nary a false note.”
Also starring Tzi Ma, Diana Lin, Lu Hong, and Jiang Yongbo, see the trailer and poster below, and if you are in NYC, the film will open this year’s BAMcinemaFest on June 12.
In this funny, uplifting tale based on an actual lie, Chinese-born, U.S.-raised Billi (Awkwafina) reluctantly returns to Changchun to find that, although the whole family knows their beloved matriarch, Nai-Nai, has been given mere weeks to live, everyone has decided not to tell Nai Nai herself. To assure her happiness, they gather under the joyful guise of an expedited wedding, uniting family members scattered among new homes abroad. As Billi navigates a minefield of family expectations and proprieties, she finds there’s a lot to celebrate: a chance to rediscover the country she left as a child, her grandmother’s wondrous spirit, and the ties that keep on binding even when so much goes unspoken. With The Farewell, writer/director Lulu Wang has created a heartfelt celebration of both the way we perform family and the way we live it, masterfully interweaving a gently humorous depiction of the good lie in action with a richly moving story of how family can unite and strengthen us, often in spite of ourselves.
The Farewell opens on July 12.