The Farewell is probably one of the most underrated films of 2019. This movie scored an 8.1 on IMDb, and follows a Chinese family as they discover that their grandmother is diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. They must decide whether or not to tell her the truth, which in China, is the family's right. They decide to make her last days the best they can be and plan a fake wedding so they can all be together. This movie is a brilliant piece of family and love, but it's also an immaculate representation of Eastern and Western culture.
While Crazy Rich Asians was applauded for finally bringing Asian culture to the big screen, we think it's pretty safe to say it failed in doing so appropriately. So, we thought we'd make a list of 10 things that The Farewell does WAY better than it's popular counterpart.
10 A Heartfelt Story
Did any of us really actually care about what's-her-name and what's-his-face? He was actually barely in the movie, anyways, right? Honestly, Crazy Rich Asians was arguably entertaining and definitely had some good petty drama. However, The Farewell takes this one step further by actually providing a story that everyone can relate to - in whatever way they choose to. Whether it's about your grandparents, your relationship with your parents, or even just your position and goal in life, this movie will definitely pull at your heart strings.
9 An Authentic Tale of Family
The plot of Crazy Rich Asians follows that stereotypical, "my mom doesn't like you 'cause you don't fit in" kind of thing, and honestly, the entire family dynamic in this film is forced and pretty fake. In contrast, we feel comfortable saying that The Farewell is one of the most authentic portrayals of family we've ever seen in film. Whether you're from an Eastern or a Western culture, you'll definitely relate to everything this family is going through. There are strained relationships and close relationships, and that pretty much perfectly sums up family life, right?
8 Balancing Eastern vs. Western Values
In Crazy Rich Asians, we're pretty much shown two different sides - the American and the Chinese. One character will represent one side, and there's no real struggle between the two (until that of the American is *clearly* shown to be better).
The Farewell beautifully demonstrates how each character, who have both a North American and Chinese background, struggle with the contrasting values of these two cultures. The collectivist vs. individualist ideology is brilliantly displayed in this film, which is much more valuable in bringing this culture to the big screen.
7 The Grandmother
These two movies actually made it super easy for us to compare. They both have a grandmother involved that doesn't speak English and wants what is best for their grandchildren. However, the grandmother in Crazy Rich Asians is pretty much just there as a backdrop to further along how Rachel doesn't fit in, but how she makes Nick happy, we guess? Obviously, the grandmother in The Farewell is pretty much the whole central point of the plot. However, she actually aids in demonstrating the cultural gap, but also the cultural similarities between Western and Eastern culture. She also definitely helps along Billi's character, and let's be honest, we all fell in love with Nai Nai.
6 Humor & Quirkiness
We're not trying to tread lightly on any of these issues. That being said, it should go without saying that Crazy Rich Asians isn't actually funny. In fact, it's pretty cringy - and not in a good way. Yes, you will definitely be laughing at some of the ridiculous and quirky moments of The Farewell, but that's because it's intentional. It's supposed to be relatable, and whose life isn't a bit awkward? Honestly, every single one of the characters in this film is hilarious in their own way, and no, they don't have cheesy and poorly written lines.
5 What It's Like to Live in Asia
Sure, Crazy Rich Asians is about, well, rich Asians, but they still do walk the streets of Asia, right? Did we even notice? Well, The Farewell does an incredible job of showing the contrast between the streets of China and the streets of New York.
They're both big cities, but they feel so vastly different to the viewer. From Billi boiling drinking water in her hotel room to the stunning cemetery scene, it feels like you're right there in China with her.
4 Cultural Wedding
So both of these films feature a wedding, and we can't be much more comparative than that. Honestly, considering Crazy Rich Asians claims to have been a stepping stone for Asian representation, the wedding is SUPER Westernized. Sincerely, we'd like you to google a traditional Chinese wedding and you'll see how different they are. Sure, that's fine, but isn't Nick's family's purpose to keep tradition alive? Comparatively, in The Farewell, we get a much more authentic demonstration of the culture, and how a wedding is truly all about family and friends getting together to celebrate love.
3 Character Development
Rachel and Billi are our two main ladies in these two films. While Rachel arguably gains a new sense of self, she's also already pretty confident at the beginning of the film. That being said, she pretty much grows a backbone to stand up to Nick's mom. On the other hand, Billi undergoes a huge cultural transformation and finds her place between her American and Chinese identities. She also gains a new understanding for her family, and it's incredible to watch her grow and learn in these ways. Honestly, it's not even a fair competition in this category.
2 Relevant Side Stories
Sure, Nick's way too ridiculous and glamorous bachelor party was fun, we guess. But honestly, it didn't do anything except take up a lot of time and *again* show us that Nick and his buddy aren't like the rest of them. We knew that though already, didn't we? Let's not even talk about the cheating scandal with that one couple, or the jealous and cruel ex-girlfriend of Nick. Honestly, these are just fillers that don't have good characters or any real relevance to the plot. The Farewell actually has a pretty focused plot, but we still get to see Billi's cousin, her uncle, her father, her mother, and many others' journey throughout. To put it simply, these actually advance the plot and its meaning.
1 Proving Neither Culture is "Better" Than the Other
For an Asian-driven film, the message behind Crazy Rich Asians is so ethnocentric it's actually really cringy. If you think about it, didn't all of the characters concede to Rachel's individualistic, passion-oriented, North American ideologies? Yes, they did, and she was shown to be the *better* character. In The Farewell, we are not presented with this idea at all. Yes, this movie shows a plethora of differences between Eastern and Western culture, but the bottom line is that there is no clear better choice. You're supposed to feel conflicted about them, regardless of where you come from. There is no point in this film where you feel like one of these cultures is better than the other. They are, in fact, just a different way of life. For the Asian community, this film is unarguably more of a win in this regard.
If you haven't noticed by now, Awkwafina plays a large role in both of these films, and we absolutely love her in both. However, we'd be curious to see which film she thinks did more favors for the film community, as well as the Asian community. In any case, we're hoping to see some award nods towards The Farewell and its incredible crew.