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The Farewell

The quiet, moving family drama is in theaters.

Alissa Wilkinson covers film and culture for Vox. Alissa is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.

Metacritic score: 88

Billi (Awkwafina, in a terrific dramatic performance) lives in New York City, where she and her parents emigrated from China when she was 6 years old. But when her grandmother is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, Billi and the rest of the family gather in China. They haven’t told their grandmother about her diagnosis, however — a common practice in Chinese families — so they hastily plan a wedding for Billi’s cousin as their reason for visiting.

Family drama ensues, as you might expect. But The Farewell (from writer and director Lulu Wang) never falls back on familiar beats. Instead, it’s an engrossing tale about a family, long separated by geography, who discover that their own internal topography is being subtly readjusted in the face of tragedy.

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