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Lulu Wang
Shuzhen Zhao, Awkwafina, X Mayo
Writing Credits:
Lulu Wang

A Chinese family discovers their grandmother has only a short while left to live and decide to keep her in the dark, scheduling a wedding to gather before she dies.

Box Office:
$40 Million.
Opening Weekend
$21,380,987 on 3286 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English/Mandarin DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 11/12/2019

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Lulu Wang & Director of Photography Anna Franquesa-Solano
• “Nothing But the Truth” Featurette
• “Going Home” Featurette
• 2 Deleted Scenes


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver;
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer.


The Farewell [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 29, 2020)

Back in 2018, Awkwafina enjoyed a breakout year via supporting roles in Ocean's 8 and Crazy Rich Asians. 2019’s The Farewell lets the actor graduate to a lead character.

When she was six, Billi Wang (Awkafina) and her family emigrated to the US from China. Now in her early 30s, she struggles to find her own identity.

Billi remains close to her paternal grandmother “Nai Nai” (Zhao Shuzhen) even though the elderly woman remains in China. Unbeknownst to Nai Nai, she suffers from advanced cancer and seems likely to live only a few more months.

The extended family wants to gather to say goodbye, but they prefer not to inform Nai Nai of her fate. Thus the clan organizes a wedding to take place in China so the entire group can come together and see Nai Nai one last time.

This decision to keep Nai Nai in the dark doesn’t sit well with Billi. As she travels to China to connect with her grandmother, various family tensions come to the fore.

In a subtle way, that is. Don’t expect melodramatic fireworks to materialize here, as Farewell keeps things subdued.

That factor allows the story to evolve in a natural manner and feel less contrived than it should. Based on events that happened to writer/director Lulu Wang, Farewell manages a gentle arc that never resorts to tacky overwrought material to engage the viewer.

Given how easily a tale like this could’ve gone for over the top tear-jerking, its subtlety feels nearly miraculous. At the heart, Awkwafina manages a quiet, honest performance that helps ground the material.

Given that she originally gained fame as the performer behind a profane, comedic rap song, Awkwafina’s prior history with comedic roles makes sense. While she did nicely in those films, she didn’t seem like someone who’d offer an obvious fit for a more dramatic, less flamboyant part.

Happily, Awkwafina holds down her broader tendencies and gives Billi a realistic feel. When the film opts for gentle comedy, she executes those moments nicely, and she manages the drama in an appropriate manner as well.

Key to the tale, Awkwafina and Shuzhen display an appealing chemistry. They feel like a real grandmother/granddaughter and they show a fine connection in those pivotal scenes.

Though the plot synopsis makes Farewell sound like a dour downer, it does manage light comedy at times. Nothing gut-busting occurs, but we find just enough mirth to lighten the mood on occasion.

Farewell also digs into ethical issues and cultural ramifications in an insightful way. Again, this could become an overbearing display, but Wang allows the questions to emerge organically and not feel forced.

Movies about dying elderly women don’t lean toward mass audiences, but The Farewell offers a rich tale that deserves exposure. With involving characters and situations, it becomes a compelling drama.

Catty footnote: what’s with the awful Photoshop work on the movie’s art? The Blu-ray cover replicates the original film poster, and it looks like someone’s 12-year-old put it together in about 15 minutes.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

The Farewell appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie offered a positive visual impression.

Overall definition seemed positive. Only a little softness materialized, so the movie usually appeared accurate and concise.

I noticed no signs of jaggies or edge enhancement, and shimmering was absent. The film lacked print flaws and seemed clean.

In terms of colors, Farewell went for a teal and orange tint. These appeared fine within the film’s stylistic choices.

Blacks seemed dark and tight, and shadows demonstrated good clarity. This added up to a satisfying presentation.

A character drama wouldn’t seem to be a candidate for a whiz-bang soundtrack, and the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio of Farewell fell into expected realms. Usually the track remained oriented toward ambience, so don’t expect lots of sizzle from the mix.

Audio quality satisfied. Although didn’t get much score, the music was full and rich, while effects showed nice clarity and accuracy.

Speech – obviously an important factor here – appeared concise and crisp. Nothing here soared, but it all seemed perfectly adequate for the project.

A few extras appear, and we get an audio commentary from writer/director Lulu Wang and director of photography Anna Franquesa-Solano. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at real events and their adaptation for the screen, story and characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, photography, editing, and related domains.

Overall, we get a nice look at the production. The track covers an appropriate array of topics and does so in an informative, engaging manner. I’d like a little more about the way the movie reflects Wang’s experiences, but this still turns into a useful piece.

Two featurettes ensue, and Nothing But the Truth runs 15 minutes, 31 seconds. Here Wang discusses her life and what brought the story to the screen, cast and performances, and reflections on cultural topics. Some of this repeats from the commentary, but Wang brings a nice overview.

Via Going Home, we find an eight-minute, 51-second chat with actor Awkwafina. She discusses how she got the role, cultural topics and other impressions connected to the film. Awkwafina delivers some useful insights.

Two Deleted Scenes complete the set: “Hit the Airplane” (1:03) and “Blind Psychic” (2:08). “Airplane” offers a pretty superfluous comedic moment, but “Psychic” brings a revelation about Billi’s mom that probably should’ve made the final cut.

As a story of death, Chinese culture and ethics, The Farewell offers an engaging tale. Sprinkle some gentle comedy with good performances and this turns into a rich drama. The Blu-ray brings solid picture with adequate audio and a few bonus materials. Farewell becomes a vivid exploration of its topics.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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