Movies like “The Farewell (2019)” are the reasons I love watching films from around the world. The film is about a loving Chinese family trying to hide from their matriarch, her late-stage cancer by organising a grand wedding in the family to keep her spirits high.
Nai Nai (generic term to mean ‘paternal grandmother’ in Chinese) is an old lady living in Changchun, China. After her husband’s death many years ago, though there are people around her, like a caring sister living nearby, a roommate and a maid, she misses having her two sons and their kids. She loves them a lot, but they are living far away in Japan and the USA for many decades. She has to feel contempt with their occasional visits and phone calls. Now that she is nearing her end, they all rush to see her and shed their guilt by organising a rush wedding for her grandson from Japan.
The story is told from the angle of Nai Nai’s grand-daughter from the USA “Billi”, who portrays the difficulty of growing up and living with two different cultures (Chinese and American) surrounding you. Billi is an American and used to seeing nuclear families, but her Chinese roots make her yearn for living with her grandmother and her larger family. Awkwafina has brought the character to life with her effortless acting and for that she richly deserves the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress. Equally impressive was Zhao Shuzhen, who has played the loving grandma, everyone in the audience can see their grandmother in her.