The Farewell (2019)

Lulu Wang directs Awkwafina, Tzi Ma and Zhao Shuzhen in this drama where an American granddaughter returns to China to visit her dying beloved grandmother, having to maintain the new family secret – Nai Nai is unaware she is fatally ill.

A calm production, lightly humorous, excellent food porn and more preachy than dramatic. I know I’m in the minority for not liking this one more but it seemed to set itself up nicely and then just get stuck in a rut… the plot doesn’t really develop any further than from the pitch and that dragged for me. There’s some nice ensemble work here and moments of slightly stretched magical realism but in the main I thought the focus was off. Awkwafina’s perpetual outsider is quite a whiny, self-centred character and pretty much anyone else already present would have made a more compelling protagonist. The poor nephew and his Japanese bride having to fake a wedding to cover-up the international reunion… are they in love? Where’s her family? Are they going to stay together? Surely there’s a far stronger rom-com there based around the same “lie”. Instead they are sidelined to near silent background extras, while a self-branded ‘millennial’ mopes about for another dozen scenes of stroppy sullenness.

4

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