Short reviews of three recent releases: The Farewell, The Nightingale, and Gwen.
** ½ (out of 4)
Lulu Wang’s The Farewell tells the story of what its opening title card calls an “actual lie.” The protagonist, a Chinese-American woman named Billi (Awkwafina), learns at the film’s start that “Nai Nai” (Zhao Shuzhen), her paternal grandmother, has terminal cancer. In a decision that leaves Billi shocked and angry, however, Billi’s relatives decide that it’d be better to conceal this diagnosis from Nai Nai – and to create an excuse for everyone to see Nai Nai one last time, they hastily arrange a wedding in Nai Nai’s hometown between one of Billi’s cousins (Chen Han) and his Japanese girlfriend (Aoi Mizuhara).
* ½ (out of 4)
WARNING: This review contains spoilers.
Like the various rich characters it portrays, Jon M. Chu’s Crazy Rich Asians (henceforth Crazy) has proved enviably successful. After obtaining an impressive 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it raked in $34 million over its opening weekend, thereby kickstarting an as-yet unbroken two-week streak at the top of the domestic box office. More significantly, as the first major Hollywood production to feature an all-Asian cast since The Joy Luck Club (1993), Crazy has also been praised for its inclusivity. To quote one Asian-American writer, the film is “a rare example of Asian Americans taking the reins to tell a story completely from our own perspective.”