USA 2019

Running time: 97 mins

The Farewell

Director : Lulu Wang

Summary :
A family gathers ostensibly for a wedding but really to say goodbye to Grandmother who has terminal cancer without her knowing she has cancer or the real reason they are there.

Country: USA

Original Language: Chinese & English

Setting: China, New York

Aspect Ratio: 2.35 Widescreen

Colour: Colour

Sound: Stereo

Camera: Arri Alexa Mini

Cast & Crew, People Appearing and Characters

: Billi (grandaughter): Awkwafina (Billi (grandaughter))
Nai Nai (grandmother): Shuzhen Zhao (Nai Nai (grandmother))

Date acquired: Jul 2022
Date last seen: Sat 30th Jul 2022


Nai Nai (the Grandmother, Shuzhen Zhao) lives in China, her two sons and their families live in Japan and New York. When she is diagnosed with terminal cancer her sister, who cares for her, decides that she should not be told the diagnosis (apparently a common practice in Chinese society) but the family decide they will all make a trip to china ostensibly for the wedding of her grandson (who has a Japanese girlfriend), but in fact to say goodbye as it is 25  years since they have all been together.

The grandaughter, Billi (Awkwafina) is not comfrotable with the deciet and initially is not going, but turns up anyway. 

Film Category



by rogerco on Sat 30th Jul 2022. DVD proj @ home (with subtitles)

The centre of the story is the relationship between Nai Nai and Billi, which provides us with a way in to come to understand, as Billi does, some of the cultural differences between the individualistic american way and the Chinese social family. From being initially appalled at the lie that is being collectively perpetrated, Billi comes to accept and even embrace it.

The key scene is where she is with her father and uncle at their hotel in Changchun just before the wedding and they explain the difference between living in America and in China is that in America people believe their life belong to themselves, whereas in China people's lives are part of a whole, of a family, of society, and therefore it is the family's duty to carry the emotional burden of the cancer knowledge FOR Nai Nai.

The whole film is an illustration of this point, and it works really well.