Film Review

The Farewell (2019)

IMDB link
Running time: 1h 40min
Directed by Lulu Wang
Written by Lulu Wang
Starring Shuzhen Zhao, Awkwafina, X Mayo

The Farewell is feel-good drama/comedy which centers on the Chinese custom of not informing (or lying to) people about their terminal illness, so that they can live the rest of their days in blissful ignorance. The film is based on the true story of director/writer Lulu Wang’s life experiences.

Most of the film takes place in China in Mandarin Chinese, but a small part of it is in English in the US. Those who are familiar with these cultures (especially Chinese culture) will understand and get more out of The Farewell; the clash of these two cultures is what makes the story. That is not to say that the film is bizarre or difficult to follow for those who are not well-versed in Chinese culture. It’s a simple story about tradition and what’s the right thing to do and why.

You do not want your family to look at you like this. Or maybe you do, you weirdo. Who am I to judge?
Awkwafina doing her best parrot impression
This is a serious Wes Anderson moment

One could say that The Farewell tries to manipulate your emotions, but that is true for any film. The more accurate criticism would be to say that it becomes at times noticeable how the film attempts to pull at your emotional strings. There are some cheesy moments but thankfully they are rare.

“Ewww, young love”

Like the movie itself, the cast is good, but not spectacular (though that is difficult to judge when you do not speak the language spoken in the film). The same goes for other areas of film-making, there really is not much to complain about or praise. On a second viewing, I am sure that I could find more, but as it stands, I do not have much more to say. The humor does not always work, but I am hard to please. Overall, The Farewell is competent. The pacing is on the slower side, but not offensively so.

It’s rare for so many people to come out of the closet at the same time, especially in China

The Farewell is a good movie, but it does not really stand out in any particular way. Depending on disposition, one might be able to get more out of it than I did.

Rating: 6.0 / 10

Times I had seen this film prior to this viewing: 0

Would I want to rewatch this film? Maybe, but not in a while

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