Learning the differences in cultures is something I never get tired of. Having lived in one country myself, let alone one city, I often catch myself wondering why something is done one way, when I have been doing the exact same thing completely differently. What I have come to learn is that the right way of doing something might just be one possible way, and that can be open for discussion. Going into The Farewell I knew I would see something like that and not only did I come to learning some new things, it also made me feel something I didn’t expect.
Billi (Awkwafina) is a good granddaughter who even though she lives in New York City, still finds the time to talk to her grandmother “Nai Nai” (Shuzhen Zhao) often. Things though are not going well with Nai Nai, as she is diagnosed with lung cancer. Billi’s parents though warn her not to tell Nai Nai, as she doesn’t know and that the family is planning a fake wedding as an excuse for them all to come visit her in China. Billi though is not invited, as everyone fears that she will let the cat out of the bag because of her inability to hide her emotions. Billi ignores that request and heads to China anyway and when she gets there the pain is already written on her face. What she is having problems with is lying to her Nai Nai and telling her everything is fine knowing the truth and believing that truth would be better for her. In China some don’t consider themselves as individuals, but more as a whole, meaning the family is more important than any one individual member. This is tough for Billi to comprehend and makes it even more tough for her to enjoy being around her family, most who she hasn’t seen in a long time. Slowly she starts to come around because of the strength around her until she gets to the point of acceptance and belief her family knew what was right.
This is the kind of movie that brings out all the feels and will leave you with some thoughts to chew on. Writer/director Lulu Wang brings some truth to the film and heart that you just can’t make up. It is hard not to sit and consider the importance of your own family and what they bring to your life. For me this was a reminder of how you shouldn’t take advantage of the time you have, because you will never know when it will end. While the story is near damn perfect, so is Awkwafina’s performance as her emotions that play out in her face say more than most do with words. Everything about what she does will leave you in awe as she helps deliver on an already emotional story. The Farewell reminds you there are so many great stories that you haven’t heard and this is one you should share with the people you care about the most.