A headstrong Chinese-American woman returns to China when her beloved grandmother is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Billi struggles with her family’s decision to keep grandma in the dark about her own illness as they all stage an impromptu wedding to see grandma one last time.
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There is something hesitant about the way Wang turns this beguiling family story into a film, an unwillingness to push too hard into potentially painful emotional territory, which also keeps the comedy in check.
Wang is unapologetic about the cultural specificity of her (true) story, yet it is this limited framework that ultimately makes The Farewell a vivid and endlessly relatable story of fractured identity in a globalized world.
Incidentally heard the podcast recently and surprised given its innate humour that Wang chose to make the fiction more reserved. Attribute it to proximity then but I found this a touch staid, unwilling to expand in any surprising direction. The differences are interesting in theory and it's a thoughtful depiction of identity in limbo (lovingly composed too), sadly just never quite connected with it 2.5
Placid, possibly to a fault. Once the setup is in place, it develops few wrinkles and not much urgency; the second act does little with its characters except go in circles that widen far too slowly. But by the end, it chalks up a number of lovely observations about family, aging, culture gaps, etc., that universalize its specifics and earn a payoff about how the proper way to face death is simply to continue living.
As someone who’s constantly torn between two countries, I found Wang’s observations on the clash of ideologies to be resonant. Emotionally, however, I had trouble connecting to the film’s core. I felt distant from the characters as the events unfolded. Once the lie is established, and we go past the immediate outrage of the family’s decision, The Farewell enters a status quo which is maintained until the end (cont'd)
Found this disappointing despite the rave reviews: undeveloped plot, bland characters, lackluster, surface-level storytelling. After 1.5 hr, still knew next to nothing about the the protagonist and her family. Too many shots of Awkwafina looking vaguely sad and contemplative. Some shots and scenes felt extraneous. The grandma-cancer secret plotline got old fast. Still, good to see that As-Am cinema is growing.
Explores the Asian-American (to an extent, any Chinese immigrant) experience and the notions of cultural confusion and distance, and the emotional toil that carries. This is a bigger step in the right direction than the over-hyped notion of representation. However, wish it explored this in more breadth and depth. The film is undermined by an excess of sentimentality and repeated contemplation, lacking development.
A total bore,that is over-hyped solely because of the diversity factor, which is becoming an annoying trend each Oscar season. It is a shame because the premise of the film i.e universalism vs cultural relativism in terms of how patients are given information about their health is an important one and the film doesn't seem to care about exploring it at all. Also Awkwafina has the emotional range of a brick wall.