• Kaveh Jalinous

The Farewell (2019): Film Review




Every once in a while, a film comes along that really reminds you of why movies are so powerful. Of why the idea of a movie is so much more than projected images onto a silver screen for a certain duration of time. A movie is a gateway to learning about new characters, new experiences, and new cultures - and for that and so much more, it is such a beautiful medium. A few days ago, when I was blessed enough to see Lulu Wang's directorial debut, which was "based on an actual lie", I was instantly reminded (among many other things) of why I fell in love with film all those years ago. To put in the simplest of words, it was because of that beautiful feeling, the feeling of stumbling upon a movie that will affect you forever. The Farewell is that kind of movie. ​ The Farewell tells the story of Billi, a Chinese-American woman who becomes torn over the news that her grandma, her Nai Nai, has stage four lung cancer. She becomes even more flustered upon learning that her family plans on not telling her grandma about the illness, due to an Eastern-culture practice that has been followed for generations. As the whole extended family flies to China for a fake makeshift wedding in disguise of seeing Nai Nai for the last time, Billi must learn to hide her emotions and deal with the trauma and happiness of being with her family once again. ​ In it's entirety, The Farewell follows one plot-line, with only a single story to tell. But it follows this story in such a fresh and renowned way, with a brilliantly written script that serves as a catalyst for the film's brilliant actors to shine brightly. Awkwafina gives a career-defining performance as Billi, and her ability to portray a wide range of emotions and expressions merely proves that she is one to watch out for in the coming years. The ensemble cast also shines in their roles, and all together, the actors really nail the essence of family that the script fosters throughout the movie. In The Farewell, one of the most powerful aspects of the film is its use of silence. The film's many moments of dramatic silence really help relay the grief and emotion possessed by all the characters in the movie, and the actors playing them. On top of all this, the film is filled with so many little themes and motifs that strike really powerfully - as the film sheds a light on the difference between Eastern and Western Cultures, what it means to be dual cultured, the sacrifices we make for family, and so many other ideas that will resonate in the viewer's minds long after they've seen the film. On top of that, the film knows how to strike emotional cores in effective ways, with multiple scenes that are almost guaranteed to bring the tears, simple as that. ​ In short, there is no way to describe The Farewell other than perfection. The film represents a new front for independent films, as well as so much more. It is simply a beautiful movie with so much to say, and it makes use of relaying its messages in the most effective way possible. Although only her first film, Lulu Wang has proved that she knows what she's doing when it comes down to the business of filmmaking. At this point there's really nothing left to say except: see this movie. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

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