Nothing but upvotes for Lulu Wang‘s The Farewell, which A24 will open on 7.12. Billi (Akwafina), a Chinese-American 20something, flies to China after her grandmother Nai Nai (Zhao Shuzhen) has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. The tension stems from a family decision not to tell Nai Nai of her condition.
I’m not questioning the heartfelt Sundance raves, but I have a couple of questions.
The idea, again, is to keep the grandmother in the dark about her illness…right? I realize that trailer cutters always try to deliver on-the-nose emotions but something feels wrong between the 20-second and 50-second mark. The trailer strongly indicates that family members (Akwafina included) are making very little effort to mask their sadness over the situation, to the extent that Nai Nai seemingly has no choice but to ask “what’s wrong?” What’s the point of a family deciding to keep bad news a secret if they’re going to convey their true feelings this blatantly? Wouldn’t everyone try to mask their feelings with too much gaiety?
And if an older women is stricken with lung cancer, wouldn’t she look like it? As in ashen, bent over with a cane, gaunt, chemo treatments, pain medication, napping a lot? And wouldn’t she knew what’s going on anyway? It’s her body, after all.
Right now The Farewell has a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating.