The heat index Wednesday was close to 110. Crazy. After work, I decided to cool off at the movies and watch an artsy flick. I needed something quiet, something to think about. The Farewell, directed by Lulu Wang, served my goals. It was quiet, introspective, and poignant. Well acted and directed, it's a family story, a cultural contrast story.
Billi (the excellent Awkafina in a dramatic role) lives in NYC but talks to her grandmother in China all the time. Visiting her folks in the city, she finds out they are leaving for China for a wedding. Who's wedding? What? Why? Turns out, the wedding is an excuse to see the grandmother who's dying of lung cancer. But no one will tell her. It's a secret.
Billi's financially struggling, doesn't get the grant she's hoped for, but hops on a plane and surprises everyone in China. The grandmother is delighted. The parents, et al make Billi swear she won't break the news. She has to act happy - go with the flow. This is against the Americanized part of her - it's lying, just not right. But in China, it's part of many family's culture - no need to dwell on the bad. Enjoy any final time with family and be happy.
The movie explores the family dynamics as they go through the wedding. The grandmother is so happy and you watch tender moments and struggling moments among the various family members and Billi. The Farewell is quite good and makes you think.
P.S.. it does have subtitles. Warning if that annoys you. Hence, Ray did not join me in my artsy movie mood.
Joanne Faries, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. She considers herself fortunate to be able to pursue a writing career after eons in the business world. Joanne enjoys reading and movies, and is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba.