REVIEW / DRAMA[hhmc]
THE FAREWELL (PG)
101 minutes/Opens today/ 4 stars
The story: Billi (Awkwafina, or Nora Lum) is a New York writer trying, and failing, to secure a footing in the world. Her family tells her that her beloved Nai Nai (Zhao Shuzhen) or Grandmother, who lives in Changchun, China, has terminal lung cancer. Everyone in the clan is aware of the diagnosis, but hides it from Nai Nai because they believe she must go into her last months in blissful ignorance. The family hatch a plan: Billi's cousin, who lives in Japan, will hold his wedding in Changchun, giving the family a reason to see Nai Nai for the last time without rousing her suspicions. Based on American writer-director Lulu Wang's experiences.
"Chinese people have a saying: 'When you get cancer, you die. You die from fear.'"
It is a line delivered by Billi's mother, Jian, played by Chinese-Australian actress Diana Lin.
Billi's parents were adults when they migrated from China to the United States, but still have a lot of the old country in them.
Billi, on the other hand, thinks the Chinese attitude is defeatist – rage, rage against the dying of the light, she argues – and that hiding Nai Nai's diagnosis is not an act of mercy, but deceit, one that will rob the older woman of any say about her final moments.
It soon becomes clear that lying is just business as usual for this immigrant family: daughter shields parents from unpleasant truths about her life, just as they shield Nai Nai from hard facts.
These complicated cross-currents are what make this drama so interesting. Billi is not as individualistically American as she thinks she is and her parents are not as stereotypically Chinese as they first appear to be.
When the action moves to Changchun, where it will stay for most of the film, Wang shows, in piquant, bleakly comic vignettes, how modern China has industrialised the art of shading the truth – hotels with broken lifts hide them from walk-in guests until they have signed up; and banquet halls substitute expensive food items with cheaper ones, but tell clients only when it is too late to cancel.
Billi, the Western eyes of the audience, begins to see how in China lying or, at the very least, beRead More – Source