The Farewell (2019) Poster

(I) (2019)

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Subtly anguished portrait of a family coping with tragedy
PotassiumMan18 August 2019
Awkwafina stars as a young Asian-American professional woman in this down-to-earth, insightful film about a Chinese family that confronts the discovery of an aging grandmother being diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer. The family is determined to not tell the grandmother about her condition so as to allow her the best state of mind as she lives out the remainder of her life.

Tremendous performances make this film, which would not be the same achievement without the acting that makes these characters utterly real, without judging them or resorting to weepy melodrama. In addition, there is the theme of a clash of views between Asian-Americans who have learned western values and the long-standing traditional values of Chinese families. There is also a contrast in backdrops, with Awkwafina's protagonist's laid-back lifestyle at home in New York compared to the sterile, concrete character of China.

Although the film has a comedic element with Awkwafina at the helm, this is more a slow-burn film about the psychological toll of impending family loss. It is never overdone and there are no cheap tears here. This film, in the end, earns its emotional impact. I don't cry watching a film, but I came close here. For patient viewers, this will is a must-see. Gladly recommended.
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Heartfelt, emotional, and hilarious
motlryan31 May 2019
This film so expertly balances the emotion and humor of keeping a secret. No matter how dire the secret may be, it can often lead to awkward moments. The films soars when it depicts the interactions of all of the family members. It lacks, slightly, in the department of character development. The film stays transfixed on its main plot and doesn't stray for time with the outside family members. That being said, the film provides a ride that is absolutely worth watching.
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Nice little boring movie
jlau1011023 July 2019
Saw this movie last week because my friend had free tickets. As an Asian American, I had high expectations for this but it just left me feeling very "meh". It was supposed to be a comedy but I only laughed two or three times. It was more of a melodrama if nothing else.

The performances were okay. No one impressed me and I thought Awkwafina was passable at best. Most of the time she was just moping around and looking sad.

I know this is supposed to be some kind of important movie dealing with a serious topic but I just found myself really bored and un-engaged. Don't get me wrong, it was well made and all but it just didn't do it for me. I felt like I was at my cousins' house listening to them argue about random BS and couldn't wait to leave.
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Beautifully Melancholy Comedy About Family, Life, and Culture
The Farewell is phenomenal and one of the best films of 2019.

Awkwafina sheds her usual persona to take on this role and she is truly fantastic. The real standout here, however, is Shuzhen Zhao as Nai Nai. She's funny, down to Earth, and absolutely heartbreaking. It's a brilliant performance from a phenomenal older Chinese actress and I hope she's remembered come award season (same with Awkwafina).

Lulu Wang has written an absolutely beautiful and personal film and has clearly poured her heart out into it. Her dialogue is funny, human, and poetic. Most of the film is in Mandarin, but don't worry. The translations have kept the jokes truly funny and the dramatic moments have retained their weight. It's a pretty bilingual film, so if subtitles worry you, don't worry. It's a great screenplay.

I think this is an extremely accessible film that you can bring the whole family to and I hope it gets a wide release and does well. I can't recommend it enough. I hope it does well financially and gets award recognition. I like to see beautiful, small, personal projects do well and this is a truly great movie.
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Farewell Quick Review
drewjlunn22 August 2019
Did you know that in China, it is common for people who are about to die to be hidden from that fact? If someone was diagnosed with a disease and death was inevitable, only the family would know and they would hide it from him/her. The Farewell explores this from an American point of view and a Chinese point of view. It explains why it might be a good thing and why it might not. Along with that, we have a touching story about a woman whose grandma is about to die. I loved this movie. I wanted to cry like four or five times. I highly recommend it.
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The Emperor's New Clothes
Fleckoff3 August 2019
Every year, there's a mediocre indie movie that critics shower with unearned praise and the non-discerning public (mostly pseudo intellectual liberal-types), in turn, flock to it like sheep and shower it with even more undeserving praise; where they're usually just parroting the talking points they read in a review. Ladies and gentleman, The Farewell is one of those films.

This movie was a total pointless bore. There's no plot, no laughs, no truth and no artistry. Awkwafina's character has zero arc. By the end of the film, she's the same 30 year old spinster we meet at the beginning of the film. Throughout the movie, she's just a passive observer watching things happen and reacting to things happening around her and then the movie ends.

It's sad that people rating this film so highly are doing it solely on the basis of "representation" and "diversity". Let's be honest, if the same movie was made about a white family, it would be immediately dismissed as Lifetime movie channel fodder. And no, I'm not white.

In these ultra PC times, film critics and the public seem to award points for good intentions versus the actual merits of the movie. It's kind of sad we can't be honest when critiquing films anymore. That used to be part of the fun in watching movies. Now we're stuck with forgettable trash like this posing as some amazing work of art.
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A Story That Millions of American Families Can Relate To
rannynm17 July 2019
The Farewell, directed by Lulu Wang, played tug-of-war with my emotions as I felt a constant push and pull between crying and smiling! I became a part of Billi's family, empathizing with the family members because they reminded me of my own.

Based on an actual lie, The Farewell tells the story of Billi (Awkwafina), a Chinese immigrant in America, and the relationship with her grandmother, Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhou), who lives in China. When Billi finds out that her grandmother only has a few months left to live, Billi must grapple with the fact that her family doesn't wish to tell Nai Nai. Along with dealing with Nai Nai's imminent death, Billi struggles with her Chinese and American roots.

The power of The Farewell comes from its simplicity. The most powerful scenes are those without music or dialogue, just Billi alone with her emotions. These scenes last several seconds and act as a window into Billi's heart. Awkwafina fully transforms into her character, letting her eyes convey Billi's indescribable pain to the audience. The cinematography by Anna Franquesa and Solano assists in amplifying the effect of the actors' emotions. The camera often frames Billi in the center of the screen, whether she is amongst a sea of people or alone in her room. Each time the camera does so, I felt how the sorrow forms a small bubble around her that is only visible to the audience, especially if she is pretending to smile or laugh. Once again, there is a simplicity in the cinematography that carries power. This simplicity even extends to the music by Alex Weston. The music is comprised of only a few string instruments and a simple melody. However, every time it plays it reflects the emotions of Billi, giving me goosebumps.

My favorite part is how this movie depicts immigrant families and their struggles. Being Indian, but born and brought up in America, I found several similarities between Nai Nai and my own mother and grandmother. At certain moments, I was laughing out loud because Nai Nai says something that I have heard countless times in my own family. In this way, The Farewell brings a story that millions of American families can relate to, that is not often found in Hollywood movies.

The message is that family is precious. I give The Farewell 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18. Be sure to check out The Farewell which opened in theatres nationwide July 12, 2019.

Reviewed by Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.
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Overrated and lifeless
calladoctor6 August 2019
I never felt compelled to post a review on IMDb until I came on here and saw all these 10/10 ratings. What the heck are you people smoking?

As a Chinese American, I'm really disappointed by the blind support this film is receiving. There are so many great Asian and Asian American directors and films that go completely unnoticed by the general American public but shamelessly unremarkable stuff like The Farewell seems to grab the spotlight.

I REALLY wanted to like this movie but as the film dragged on, I started realizing it had no point and nothing to say. For example, you could have completely removed Awkwafina's character and the film would have played out exactly the same. She is virtually inconsequential to the story.

Having experienced a recent loss in my family, I was hoping to relate to the film but everything on screen felt phony and disingenuous. It felt like director Lulu Wang was trying to go for a dark comedy about a dysfunctional family but ended up with something closer to a bad episode of The Golden Girls.

Save your money.
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jay426 August 2019
I kept waiting to get emotionally involved, and bought my ticket hoping that I would, but the only line I found fulfilling was the grandmother telling her granddaughter that in China people see themselves as a part of the whole instead of her American view of being strictly an individual. (She said it better) The only good thing about this movie was that it got my wife and I out on a date.
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It wasn't for me
maclock6 August 2019
First things first, as I don't fall in the target demographic for The Farewell, I'll acknowledge that I might not be the best source of information about it. Anyway, with that out of the way, I'd like to suggest to you that The Farewell was a bit slow and at times, it was unsatisfying. Anyway, this movie will appeal to some. That it didn't appeal to me is no great surprise.
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Just awful!!!
queenofdrums4 August 2019
This was such an unnecessary waste of time. I don't even understand how or why this movie got made. I understand it before going to see it and assumed we would find out why the lie was one that was such an important line to keep and that isn't the case, there is simply no explanation. There was no emotion or comedy and the acting was not good, nor was there anything else to the lackluster plot. This story could've been told in two minutes and it was so slow and painful to sit there and it was pointless. The idea of the story drew me to see it, but I felt zero emotion from the characters and we didn't even really get a glimpse about the Grandmother's life or the story and history of the family. Absolutely awful!!!
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auburnn3 August 2019
It still amazes me how a film could show a superficial understanding of foreign culture and immigration experience even when it was largely filmed in another country. The overuse of melodramatic score and mediocre cinematography at once appear cringey; it may also indicate that the director/writer lacks a good story to tell. Awkwafina, with her charisma, almost singlehandedly saved the film. The rest of it is filled with superficiality and insincerity, which even add up to kitsch. The story is not a complicated one, yet the script avoids almost every possible deep discussion by blaming the conflicts to "the differences between the East and the West." Linguistic inequality plays a role, but there are hardly ever any substantial dialogues between the family members, which renders the "Eastern family" idea advocated in the movie ridiculous. There are, in reality, so many things to talk, or at least to hint, about: Cultural Revolution the grandmother certainly went through, the Tiananmen Square protests that the parents possibly experienced, first-gen immigrant experience, identity confusion of Billi, just to name a few. Wasting lots of scenes on suburban China's "rituals," the film did a terrible job depicting both Asia and Asian-Americans. It then leads to the portrayal of the family members, which also fails. I can quickly name that the grandmother are the mother are authoritarian, the cousin introverted, etc. The Japanese woman is like an ornament to the Chinese family. What strikes me is the absence of male figures in Billi's family, which made me wonder how Billi still managed to become a wonderful person she is of today given her mother hardly listened. Even Billi, the only humane figure in the whole film (and she was raised in the US, which implies something), seems to be lacking internal struggle and social connection. As a whole, this family is atomized even when people gather together.
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A Soulless movie
caohong_995 August 2019
I had a high anticipation for this movie, because I love the main actress Awkwafina and I also like other good actors and actress, however, the script was so lifeless, and without meanings, except some cliche, therefore, those who acted in this movie, all like mannequins without souls and life and contents. Some people compared this director to Ang Lee, in my opinion, it is a total insult to one of the greatest directors of our time.
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Grateful and teary aside, overly preachy and sentimental
AlanaFu23 July 2019
Stylish, ambitious, dealing with very important issues, quirky humor, very much reminding me of indie family comedies like The Funeral (1984) . However the quality of this film feels inconsistent and clunky. There are quite a few good acting moments though mostly tacky, the dialogues were too theatrical and over sentimental. (I'm really excited for Awkwafina! Can't wait to see her tackle some good dramedy roles!) I wish I had seen more "Billi and Nai nai do stuff together" and connecting like the exercise scene, and way less preaching & discussing. (a very good example it reminded me is The Way Home 2002). But my friends and I did cry and laugh and sung together at the end, and there are not nearly enough movies out there about grandparents, so thank you Lulu Wang!
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A secret, a family struggle of emotions like love and pain, it's relative a heartfelt and touching watch.
blanbrn18 August 2019
"The Farewell" is one film that as you watch entertains you with thought, and fun laughs and has the drama of pain and emotion all wrapped up in one. It has themes of trust, love, and most of all secrets something that all families can relate to. It involves a Chinese American woman Billi(Awkwafina) who leaves New York City to visit her family and homeland of China and the purpose for this trip is that of a gathering with family as a wedding is about to take place. However this is a wild card and subplot as the real reason is to see the family backbone and leader their grandmother. Grandma has been hit with stage 4 cancer yet she doesn't know it and the family sticks to their country's culture and decide to keep it a secret!

The film still entertains with love, laughs, and proves that family and attachment is important this picture is important as many immigrant families can relate to struggle and little things that stick out like Billi doesn't speak the best of Chinese language after being raised in America. Still it proves thru hope, love, and looking the other way from the truth that happiness and emotions can come out in the open for any family. Overall well done emotional heartfelt sentimental family drama.
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Very disappointed
trebla-905243 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Thought I would leave this movie recommending this to my friends and family. Boy was I wrong! Heard reviews and thought I would be in for a treat. Very basic movie. Follows a family to visit their dying matriarch. But nothing else to it. No suspense. No comedy. No climax. Just eh.
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I really wanted to and thought I'd love this movie
jimandkent17 August 2019
But unfortunately I did not. It was okay which is why I'd rate it above 5 but given the storyline, other reviews and the cast, I had higher expectations.
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I am just so confused...
Galvant31 July 2019
It is very boring and I feel extremely misled by the trailer. There are some redeeming qualities but they are nowhere near significant enough to warrant paying a full-price movie ticket to watch this film.

This movie was made for people who have experienced a serious loss and want a cathartic experience to relive that sadness. That isn't an accusation or judgment, I'm just saying that's what it is. So when I say that I felt purposefully misled and tricked by this movie, it's coming from the perspective of someone who is unable to comprehend it on an emotional level.

On a positive note, the shot composition was gorgeous. Everything from the positioning of characters to the furniture in the background is meticulously and purposefully placed. The transition scenes where characters are traveling or having a thoughtful moment are incredibly tranquil and stunning. The last 5 minutes of this movie? Oh my god. After slogging through what felt like two and a half hours of nothing, the ending sequence almost made all of it worth it. Almost.

I'd rate it 6/10 as a film but personally I feel like it's a 4/10 for false advertising.
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A Reflective and Meditative Movie About Immigrant Life
JuraganFilm19 July 2019
I sobbed uncontrollably at the last 15 minutes because it reminds me of my own journey as an immigrant. The main theme of the movie is the white lie, but on a larger scale this movie accurately depicts the sacrifice of leaving your family behind for a better life. While I'm not Chinese, it reminds me of the things that I missed back home - family dinner, weddings, cuisines, and hustle bustle of the city I grew up in. It's a painful reminder that as a lone soul in my family that migrates in America, I might not be there if something happens to a close relatives and put a trust on my family to take care of it. However, the movie has such a warmth and positivity that made the story very enjoyable. I can definitely see how deeply personal this movie to Lulu Wang, and bravo to the cast ensemble that carry through her story seamlessly to the scree
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One of the Best! Compatible to "The Joy Luck Club"
xiu-4002821 August 2019
I am a Chinese living in America. I can relate to the whole experience of Billi played by Awkwafina. This movie is way better than "Crazy Rich Asians" and even compatible with "The Joy Luck Club." There are small details that we can all relate to growing up with our grandparents and witnessing their health declining. This movie is very touching, and it is broader than just culture by itself. It also talks about individual identity and family responsibility, life and death, and the human experience. At the theater, I saw a white lady beside me crying as hard as I did...

This movie should not be missed. I consider it as an Oscar Contender.
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No "Joy" or "Luck" With This Film
gpxdlr21 August 2019
I agree with most of the under '5' ratings here. Kinda boring in parts, couldn't get "into" the film with the family, poor cinematography, and blah acting from some. I an "ABC," American-born Chinese from San Francisco and would have like to recommend this film to my family but I can't. I suggest they see Joy Luck Club again.
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An Angsty Awkwafina Headlines This One Note Song
metaflixinc9 August 2019
The original title for this post was "'The Farewell' Review: An Angsty Awkwafina Headlines This One Note Song." That was before we noticed that the film currently maintains a 99% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

After seeing that, we had to take stock of the situation by contemplating whose opinion is closer to being "correct" with regard to judging the overall quality of the movie: ours or mainstream critics.

For comparison, last year's breakout foreign film 'Shoplifters' also maintains a 99% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It won the Palm d'Or at Cannes in addition to 43 other awards around the world. The plot to 'Shoplifters' is wonderfully deep and complex. The acting is superb and the camerawork is among the best of the year.

Alternatively, 'The Farewell' exhibits almost none of those attributes. The plot is rather mundane, we're never given much of a reason to care about any of the characters, and the dialogue is pedestrian, at best.

So we'll leave it to you, film fans, to tell us who you agree with more: us or them. Go see the film, form an opinion, and let us know on social media.
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Too many filler scenes
productions-679459 August 2019
OK in places, but overall, pretty boring. Lots of miscasting. Many filler scenes. Jerky plot. Terrible camerawork. However, the film did provide interesting glimpses into the Chinese culture. Take a pass on this one.
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Family Is Where The Heart Is
boblipton18 August 2019
Shuzhen Zhao's hospital report says she has terminal cancer. She has perhaps four months to live. They don't tell her. Instead, the family rushes the marriage of Awkafina's cousin so that they can gather with one one last time, without letting her know anything is wrong.

It's been many years since a good friend insisted I look at Ang Lee's THE WEDDING BANQUET and EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN one after the other. When they were done, he said "Well?" and I said "They're so Jewish!" With his comedies of manners about an emigrant culture that sustains itself willy-nilly, rejected by and rejecting the mainstream, both groups are similar in their reliance on family and the dinner table as a means of staying together. Writer-director Lulu Wang's movie is of a piece with these two, with some very entertaining performances, and insight into what family means to people who are forced to be apart.
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Feel good, funny and relatable
jaycandy710 July 2019
Pretty much my favourite pic up and watch movie so far this year. So much of this film was relatable which shows that families hold similarities regardless of where they're from. If you're normally put off by subtitled film, then this one could turn you to the dark side as it's easy to follow despite 80% of it is in Chinese. I laughed, I smiled, I said 'ahhhh' a lot. It's a yes from me!
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