Do they use out takes for trailers? I remember the hospital scene in the trailer playing as if they’re discussing Nai Nai’s cancer with the doctor, in English, the doc presuming she doesn’t speak the language, until Aqufina’s character points out Nai Nai studied in the US and does, yet in the movie it plays as if Nai Nai doesn’t speak English and so isn’t understanding the discussion, which of course does not deliver the joke as the scene in the trailer did.
The Farewell is a quietly funny film once again dealing with the differences arising from being domestic Chinese vs Chinese from abroad, in this case from the US. Here the differences arise mostly from Awkwafina’s character, who on learning that her grandmother has been diagnosed with cancer is also told that no one in the family wants her to go back as they all feel she’ll blow the secret. No one has told Nai Nai as is apparently Chinese custom; they feel the news of her mortality would unnecessarily burden her. Awkwafina shows up anyway, to everyone’s surprise and Nai Nai’s delight. A some have noted, she does seem to be a one tone character, with a stooped shoulder droopy face stance in most scenes. While she’s still the liveliest of the bunch, she’s not the wise cracking smart ass Awkwafina has made a name for. There’s also not a lot going on elsewhere in the family. Was it “Monsoon Wedding” where a similar international family gathering, in the Old Country, for a wedding (as is the stated premise here) that the audience not only moves towards the climatic moment but also learns some dramatic news about members of the family, from pedophilia to spousal abuse in the process? None of that here. It seems that the “happy couple” getting married aren’t all that happy to be getting hitched and even Nai Nai suspects something is off, yet we never go there. Even the end of the film is a bit of a wheeze. It seems as if the director was afraid to look behind closed doors and bring out the backstories that might have made this film meatier.
All in all entertaining, in a somber yet still humorous manner. But it the depth mortality should bring to such a film.