The Farewell ★★★★

Writer-director Lulu Wang marks a well-accomplished feature debut with The Farewell, an emotionally resonant family comedy-drama that is both culturally specific yet flows with universal grace and warmth. As an Asian myself, the dynamics here are pretty reminiscent, particularly the beliefs about aging, dysfunctional family dynamics and saving face. Wang makes her impression as well with her choice of shots and how she frames her characters. The writing which is spoken in both Mandarin and English flowed really well with no awkward transitions or translations.

The film follows the story of a Chinese-American woman who returns to China following her beloved grandmother’s cancer diagnosis. Awkwafina puts a strong presence even her character’s arc felt monotonous. However, the film is completely stolen by veteran Chinese actress Zhao Shuzhen, who reminded me of my grandma and she’s completely watchable and relatable throughout. Overall, The Farewell is one of the mighty gems of the year. It has some questionable choices (like the CGI ending), but it’s incredibly well-put together and strongly acted!

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