As effective as "The Farewell" is on the huge movie screen I think it will be even more effective on the television screen. It is what use to be called a 'small' film but in reality it covers a lot of subjects all families deal with which brings laughs and tears and major differences no matter how small or big a family is.
I have seen Awkwafina in both ""Crazy Rich Asians" and "Ocean's 8" and I vaguely remember her 'wacky' roles but here she becomes a major player in movies and should get an Oscar nomination if not more. In the pivotal role as Billi, a daughter and granddaughter, she is rarely off screen whether in the New York or Changchun, China. Starring opposite her and, at times, stealing the picture from everyone, is Zhoa Shuzhen as the grandmother Nai Nai who has kept a close relationship with her granddaughter.
The film opens with "based on an actual lie" and it is a whopper of one as Nai Nai has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer without too much time left and the whole family conspires to keep the news from her and, yet, as in all families little lies are brought to light as we get to know the characters.
In more than one way "The Farewell" is a family movie, for any family of any nationality and background. This is a film the whole family can see together and in many cases will see themselves in how they relate to the various relatives from parents to siblings to cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.
The film is based upon the true story of the director's, Lulu Wang, family and she does a great job of drawing you into the story without any melodrama, keeping the lie real and except for two scenes keeping it all low keyed making it more moving not to forget bringing in a lot of humor.
Has not knowing of her diagnosis did Nai Nai live longer and if she had known would she have died sooner? Be sure to see the ending credits which, in a way, answers that question but, in any case, be sure to see "The Farewell"!
After learning their beloved matriarch has terminal lung cancer, a family opts not to tell her about the diagnosis, instead scheduling an impromptu wedding-reunion back in China. Headstrong and emotional writer Billi rebels against her parents' directive to stay in New York and joins the family as they awkwardly attempt to rekindle old bonds, throw together a wedding that only grandma is actually looking forward to, and surreptitiously say their goodbyes
1 hr. 38 min.