Weddings and Funerals: Lulu Wang's "The Farewell" and the Immigrant Family Drama

The FarewellWhen released over 25 years ago in 1993, Wayne Wang’s The Joy Luck Club was considered a triumph, the first film to realize the dream of Asian and Asian-American representation in Hollywood. Rather than predict a change in course, however, it remained an anomaly. Virtually no American films comparably invested in the sorts of cross-cultural divides chronicled in Wang’s saga of mother-daughter rifts and continuities saw the light of day, until last year’s romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians, and more significantly, Lulu Wang’s Sundance breakout, The Farewell. Not that world cinema lacked insights on the growing pains of the immigrant experience, and the East-West, tradition versus modernity conflicts that comprise the thematic meat of similarly charted family dramas. The United States saw a “70 percent increase in the population [of Asians] from 1980 to 1988,” according to a New York Times report, and Chinese immigrants made up a significant portion. The success
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