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The Farewell

Screening:  Wednesday, March 11 

Time: 1h40m

Genre:  American/Chinese drama/comedy 

Rating: PG13

Billi, an aspiring New York writer and the child of first generation Chinese immigrants to America, struggles to reconcile the opposing cultural values of the United States, her family’s adopted country where she grew up, with those of her family’s homeland, China. The family has decided to return to China to attend Billi’s cousin’s hastily announced wedding, which will be the pretext for a family gathering to visit Billi’s terminally ill grandmother, Nai Nai (Zhao Szuzhen). Because Billi admires Nai Nai’s funny, feisty and straightforward approach to life’s challenges; she disagrees with her family’s Chinese-inspired decision to withhold from her resilient grandmother, the fact that she has only 3 months left to live.  (The Chinese believe that the fear attendant on having cancer kills faster than the disease.) So begins the multilayered family conflict, sometimes heartfelt and sad, but often humorous and even devastatingly witty, that springs from the central difference between western and eastern beliefs; if individualism is prized in the west, the idea that “a person’s life is not his own, but that of his/her whole family “ is key to eastern values.  Skilled writer/director Lulu Wang deftly highlights both the harsh realities and nurturing truths that immigrant families discover as they attempt to harmonize conflicting cultural values. Will Billi and her family achieve a peaceful resolution to this family crisis?

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