Review: The Farewell
You're just too sad.
Billi (Awkwafina) is a Chinese-American who finds her her grandmother (Shuzhen Zhao) is dying of cancer and her family has decided to keep her in the dark per tradition. Not wanting her to travel to China with them and give it away, Billi surprises everyone by making the trip she cannot afford to discreetly say her final goodbyes.
Awkwafina described this movie as an "empathy orgy" in an interview and she's not too far off. While there's some awkward laughs here and there it's cloaked in depression, but not the kind that turns the film into misery porn. Director Lulu Wang based this story on a lie her family truly told her grandmother and you can tell. It feels very personal.
The cast is very good. There's nothing showy about these performances but they're very understated and you believe each character really loves their Nai Nai and are internally processing a lot about the situation. Billi in particular is very introspective with her grief. The strangest thing for me, however, was the fact that they all travel back to China under the guise of Billi's cousins' wedding, yet they never say a word to each other. With one being raised in Japan and on in America, there could be somewhat of a language barrier, but it seemed strange to me that the two grandchildren never had a conversation on what their parents were doing.
I surprisingly wasn't in a puddle of tears by the end of this. I think that was because I kept expecting it to end a certain way and it never did. But I did leave feeling incredibly moved by what I just saw.
Memorable quote: "He's my only cousin, don't you think I should be there?" - Billi (Awkwafina)