Am I on a streak or what? I think 2020 did it for me on starting the year off with some memorable movies.
Billi’s family returns to China under the guise of a fake wedding to stealthily say goodbye to their beloved matriarch — the only person that doesn’t know she only has a few weeks to live.
Alongside the allure of Awkwafina starring as our amazing and relateable Billi, is the synopsis of the movie. I never knew that it was a custom in China to hide an illness from the loved one until I came across this film. This became the main conflict in the film as family from around the world reunite with Nai Nai, whether or not to tell her.
The cinematography of the story is rough on the edges and has a washed-out feel; giving it an intimate feel as viewers are aware of their act of stepping into the lives of the family.
I think this movie resonated so much with me as a Chinese-Canadian. From the round dinner tables filled with so many dishes to the exercise parks filled with elders and children, watching this film felt like a quick trip back to China. But I found myself relating so often to Billi. Despite moving to the States when she was 6, she remains close with her grand mother, Nai Nai. Returning back to the mainland, she meets distant relatives and people who pester her about life in the west. But the biggest challenge of all is struggling to pretend that nothing’s wrong in front of her grandma and dealing with the moral dilemma of not telling her.
Although there remains the question of what is right and what is wrong, the film does not take sides. It reveals that the root of the conflict results from the culture conflict. Throughout the film are nods at cultural conflicts between Billi’s family and their family in the homeland. And every single one were so relevant to me, and I’m sure many other first-gen Chinese Americans. If there’s any movie that captures what it’s like to be a Chinese American, this is it.
The Farewell is a film that unintentionally fills you with nostalgia and familial love. I highly recommend! It’s also currently on Amazon Prime 😉