‘The Farewell’ is a great film based on the true story of a lie
The Farewell was a huge hit at Sundance and has won numerous critical awards so far, and it comes out with a tremendous amount of fanfare. I think that the producers at A24 are hoping that this will replicate the spectacular success of Crazy Rich Asians. I give The Farewell three stars out of four.
One of my few hesitations about what is otherwise a wonderful film is that they did the subtitles in such a way that many of the subtitles appear against a very light background, so it’s hard to read them.
With that minor reservation, however, this is a great film that’s very moving and original. It’s an autobiographical film by a filmmaker named Lulu Wang who is obviously enormously talented. This film will probably net her a best director Academy Award nomination, and there could be some acting nominations as well.
Some films say they’re based on a true story, but this film is based on an actual lie. Well, this film is based on a true story of an actual lie. The lie begins when the grandmother is in the hospital getting examined, and her younger sister is told that this old lady has only three months to live.
The decision is made not to tell her — which apparently is somewhat common in China — so she can live out her life as nicely as possible. In the movie they they arrange a wedding where the whole family is going to be reunited with family from around the world. Her two sons have gone to live in Japan, and one daughter has gone to live in New York City, and it’s the New York daughter — who came over to New York when she was six — who confronts the family with her broken Chinese and different culture, and thinks they ought to tell grandma about her condition.
The film is enormously compelling and all of the characters come across vividly. None of the actors are household names but they should be because they’re all extraordinarily gifted. You feel like you know this family; you know the aunt and you know the uncle and you know the mother and the father and certainly the grandmother, who comes across very vividly.
The wedding sequence is a classic wedding sequence with very different traditions, including a drinking game that I imagine will gain some popularity.
A side note: This film which is all about family and people trying to be nice to one another. Given the fact that most of the week I’m spent talking about American politics, this was a very welcome antidote. And maybe if some politicians go to see it they can affirm just some of the the rules of civility and decency and “Come let us reason together,” which would be great to re-establish in the United States.