The Farewell

“The Chinese people have a saying, when people get cancer, they die”

Review by Lewis Goodall

This film may bring the tone down a bit on this website. Its quite a sad one so I’ll still make sure the review is still full of humour… This film is about cancer, get prepared for a dose of tumour humour.

The Farewell, Written and directed by Lulu Wang, is based on a true story of the directors actual family. A Chinese family discover that their grandmother, Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao) has been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. They decide to it keep a secret from her. The family then push forward a wedding so that everyone can travel back to China to spend their final days with Nai Nai.

Told you. Told you this would bring the tone down a bit, quite hard to put a happy spin on a story like this. Just from the description I knew this film would make me cry and it did, of course it did, if you don’t you’re heartless or you hate elderly Chinese women with cancer. The story is a downer but it is told beautifully. Through the realistic dialogue to the emotional acting but mainly the cinematography. The way this film is shot is stunning and simplistic. Shots that would probably go unnoticed if you’re not really dissecting it but when you take a step back from the story and look at the frame it’s gorgeous. Notably is the positioning of characters throughout and the framing at which they’re in, cleverly shows the closeness of the family throughout so a real nice bit of directing from Lula there.

The story focuses mainly on Billi (Awkwafina, not a typo of awkward, her real name), the granddaughter of Nai Nai. She moved to America with her family when she was young and keeps in contact with Nai Nai over the phone but hasn’t seen her in person for around 20 years. When the news gets released that poor Nai Nai has some naughty clouds growing In her lungs, her and her family travel to China under the excuse of going to a cousins wedding. The acting from everyone throughout is emotional and raw. Having to conceal their feelings throughout to keep the cancer fact quiet so that Nai Nai doesn’t find out is done incredibly well from everyone. Matched with heartbreaking but maybe cliche at times, writing, this whole film makes for a sad film (what would you expect). Although the whole tone is sad face, theres are a lot of soft humour thrown in the mix to keep things cheery and also some moments that make you want to call your own family and see them all and reconnect.

Overall it’s a powerful film with a powerful message about family. I will be doing a spoiler section because I absolutely need to talk about a certain fact. Throughout the duration of the film you’ll go through a few emotions which is what cinema is all about, provoking a reaction from the viewer and using a dying women to do so.

8 Bird Invaders out of 10


Right this is kind of major spoilers so seriously don’t read this if you’re even thinking about watching the film. Here it goes. Nai Nai doesn’t die….. kind of pulls the whole uno reverse card on the idea of the film, but in the end, because no one tells her, she doesn’t have the fear lingering over her life and therefore carries on. She is given 3 months to live but has now lived for 6 years and somehow, the family have still kept it a secret. Even after making a full film about it, they have managed to keep it under wraps. They’re banking on Nai Nai not being capable of using the internet and looking it up, pretty impressive if you ask me. Anyway, not so much anything to add or subtract from the review, I just needed to talk about that because it surprised me a lot.

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