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Posted (edited)

A masterpiece!  Absolutely brilliant.

 

The film toes a cultural line with nuance, and you’re sucked into eavesdropping on a family situation you don’t feel like you should be hearing.  Awkwafina and Suzhen Zhou are both sensational.

 

Lulu Wang crafts a film that shows why we need more diversity (in culture and gender) behind the camera, because we’re given a refreshing story that manages to both feel familiar and completely fresh.  It’s emotional, made me tear up, but it’s also never melodramatic (where this concept could have easily gone).  It’s a poignant, funny, moving and surprising exploration about both death and what it means to actually live.

 

The Farewell shows that we’re all dying, and offers the case to really live is to not get caught up in the farewells of it all.

 

A+

Edited by The Panda

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Exceptional movie, the absolute best version of the "indie Sundance dramedy" that has usually looks like a film student project but in this case is really brilliant. What a cast too. Awkwafina really wasn't doing it for me in Ocean's 8 or CRA but she is exceptional in this with the schtick dropped. Zhao Shuzen deserves a really run for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, she's that good.

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Saw this last weekend and was completely floored by it. Lulu Wang based the movie on her own personal experiences and it shows: there's an undeniable layer of authenticity here that's depicted in a manner in which everyone is bound to take away something from this regardless of their cultural backgrounds. Awkwafina is tremendous in a performance that proves she's just as skilled, if not more so, at drama as she is at comedy, and she's surrounded by an excellent supporting cast, with a perfect turn from Zhao Shuzen as the grandmother (the final shot of her waving goodbye: :whosad:) . See this beautiful little film as soon as you can. A

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I just wonder if the cousin is still married to the girl he was dating for 3 months. I know this was based on a true story and the wedding actually happened irl, so I really want to know. lol

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Grief doesn’t feel like just one simple emotion, but rather a collision of emotions vying for control during a vulnerable time. This idea is something that writer-director Lulu Wang captures strikingly, painfully, and ultimately beautifully in The Farewell. The film’s premise – that a family reunites in China to say goodbye to a dying matriarch, but they cannot tell her of her grim prognosis – is ripe with dramatic and emotional potential, and Wang capitalizes on just about all of it. A hint of sadness lingers over many of the scenes in which family members interact with their blissfully unaware matriarch, yet the sorrow that springs from the dramatic irony is also tempered with her sense of joy and passion for life; while the feeling of anticipatory grief is powerful, so is the happiness we see from the grandmother and her family as they enjoy the present moment. Moving viewers to tears is tough enough for any film, but occasionally getting viewers to smile or chuckle through those tears? It’s a tough task, but the filmmakers nail it on numerous occasions (most notably the wedding reception, which is by turns laugh-out-loud funny and sad enough to make even a hardened viewer get at least a little misty-eyed). In the lead role as a granddaughter who struggles to keep the secret, Awkwafina delivers a revelatory performance. Her wit and comic timing were always evident in her music and her supporting roles in Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians last year, but she executes an array of more dramatic scenes with grace and precision, communicating her character’s love for her grandmother and difficulty in coping with her imminent death in such a clear, human manner that it’s all too easy to identify with her experience. Shuzen Zhao is absolutely delightful as the grandmother. Zhao portrays Nai Nai with such warmth, feistiness, and passion that it’s all too easy to understand why she means so much to her family. Awkwafina and Zhao share splendid, entirely believable chemistry with one another, making their last few scenes together resonate with some of the strongest emotional payoff I’ve seen in a movie in some time. The Farewell cuts deep and feels true to life in such a way that it’s tough not to connect on a deep level with the highs and lows it depicts. I cannot recommend this movie highly enough.

 

On a more personal note, I found this movie especially moving in light of losing my own grandmother earlier this year. Her death was very sudden - about six weeks from the first hospitalization to the end - and she and the rest of us were blissfully unaware that anything was that seriously wrong until about two weeks before she passed. Like Nai Nai in this film, her family was her entire life, and she had a tendency to take control of massive family events - but, like Nai Nai, it was out of a sense of deep familial love and a desire to bring everyone together. In the months since she passed, I’ve wondered how some of my last interactions with her last year would have been different if I had known that time was running out, and that’s a huge piece of what made so many of Billi’s scenes with Nai Nai resonate so strongly with me: she knows these moments are likely to be her last memories with her grandmother and she wants to savor them despite her sorrow and anticipatory grief. And in thinking about it, I realized that even if I’d somehow known that my grandma was going to die soon but she didn’t, there’s no way I could have brought myself to break the news to her either; she always seemed so happy and in her element around family that I wouldn’t have wanted to spoil those feelings. She also loved movies - it was definitely something we bonded over, and one of my last lengthy, lucid conversations with her was about how impressive First Man was - and while I don’t know if this is a movie she *would have* seen (she pretty much stuck to whatever showed up at the mainstream 8-plex in the college town nearby), I know it’s one she would have adored if she had gotten the chance to see it; where I see her in Nai Nai, I have no doubt she would have seen her grandkids in Billi.

 

Finally, I had mixed feelings about being the only patron in the theater for this one on the first night of its local run. On one hand, this movie is a must-see and it sucks that a whole lot of people aren’t seeing it; on the other hand, it was kinda nice to have some privacy while going through the rough emotional equivalent of watching the first ten minutes of Up on loop.
 

A

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