Yesterday, I saw The Farewell at the cinema.
“A headstrong Chinese-American woman returns to China when her beloved grandmother is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Billi struggles with her family’s decision to keep grandma in the dark about her own illness as they all stage an impromptu wedding to see grandma one last time”. IMDB (Internet Movie Database).
In China, when old people are diagnosed with a terminal illness, the tradition is to not tell them right up until the last minute e.g. it’s the families duty to take the burden upon themselves instead. In this film, a nephew and his girlfriend of three months have to get married so the family can be together without arousing suspicion of the diagnosis.
It was interesting to see the Chinese wedding, with speeches and karaoke. The film also shows the family visiting Grandad’s grave, opening oranges, biscuits, and even lighting him a cigarette for him to enjoy. The film is in Mandarin, with English subtitles, and the sing song accents give it an authentic feel.
I give it 5 out of 10, as it was slow in parts, and several characters seemed miserable, especially Billi. The funeral understandably arose the worst in people – the fear, the emotion and some long term resentments.
I know the film was a sad topic, but I’d have liked to see a better balance with more positives about the chinese culture, and celebrating the good times.