Awkwafina had a breakout 2018, making us laugh in movies like Crazy Rich Asians and Ocean’s 8, but now, she’s going to make us cry. Seriously, just watch Awkwafina in The Farewell trailer without tearing up, I dare you.
In the film, Awkwafina plays Billi, a young Chinese-American woman whose grandma is dying, but doesn’t know it. Now she’s been tasked with keeping this secret from her nai nai, which means "paternal grandmother" in Mandarin. The only problem is, she can’t seem to hide her emotions. And honestly, good luck hiding yours after finishing all two minutes and 30 seconds of The Farewell trailer.
In the first few seconds of the official trailer for the dramedy, Billi learns that her grandma is dying of cancer. "She doesn’t know, so you can’t say anything," her dad tells her. "Her family thinks it’s better not to tell her." Obviously, this is a hard one to swallow, but as her mom tells her, "Chinese people have a saying, ‘When people get cancer, they die.’"
The problem is, the Western-raised Billi doesn’t really agree with her family’s Eastern philosophy. "What if she wants to say goodbye?" she asks her cousin, only to be told that telling grandma the truth is "too painful." So when Billi visits China for a wedding, a ruse which gives the entire family an excuse to see grandma before it’s too late, she tries to give her a secret fond farewell. All the while, struggling to understand how this "good lie" is actually good for anyone, even if it’s culturally appropriate.
Turns out, The Farewell, in theaters July 12, is "based on an actual lie" from writer-director Lulu Wang’s real life, according to Entertainment Weekly. After telling the story of how her family kept the secret of her grandma’s stage IV cancer diagnosis from her grandma on a 2016 episode of NPR’s This American Life, she got a call from producer Chris Weitz, who worked on American Pie and About a Boy.
The film is inspired by the "absurdity of the situation" Billi’s family put her in, according to EW, so she wanted it to funny. What she didn’t want, though, was for the indie to become "the Chinese version of My Big Fat Greek Wedding." Wang didn’t want it to be a broad comedy, but something a little more meditative. “It was really important to me to make this film not according to sort of the constructs of a genre, but according to emotions and the authenticity of the experience,” she told EW.
Those emotions are on full display in the trailer, which offers a glimpse of Awkwafina, the dramatic actress in a role so good fans are already saying Oscar should take notice.
Last year might have been Awkwafina’s breakout, but this year, she’s showing her range. Already, she’s played a boob, literally, in Netflix’s animated comedy Tuca & Bertie. And up next is her Comedy Central series with Broad City writer/producer Lucia Aniello that will take a closer look at her life growing up in Queens.
Clearly, Awkwafina is working hard to achieve Hollywood domination. Us? Well, we’re too busy stocking up on tissues before The Farewell hits theaters this summer.
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