i saw the farewell last night.
it’s awkwafina’s “i’m a srs actor” debut, and she carries it. i believed her closeness with her grandmother, the teasing, the lying, the truths.
chinese mother-in-law hating the chinese daughter-in-law hit a raw nerve. too raw. i was already crying and so at that part i cried even more. i’m pretty sure i cried for myself. i cried because i was sorry. i cried because i was sorry i wasn’t sorry. i cried because i wish people would just be nice.
i am very affected by this piece of media, since i’m … a chinese-american woman. representation… whatever the opposite of “othering” is… “centering,” maybe? all these details like the kind of bad chinese, the parents switching back and forth between english and chinese, having to ask “what does that mean?” and “how do you say __?”, lying, the phrase “mien zi” (my pinyin is surely wrong) (like saving face, i think it means literally “appearance” as in “we must keep up appearances.” i thought it was interesting i never heard “diu lian”–throw away face. “mien zi” is a positive term, not in connotation but like additive–“do this thing to make us seem more successful than we are”–whereas “diu lian” is negative, subtractive, “we’ve lost status by this horrible embarrassment.” i just know the way my dad wrenches “diu lian” out of his gizzard like it’s the worst eternal torture and we’re doing it for his express unjust punishment. it’s much more bitter and angry. “mian zi” doesn’t even need to be said in my experience of the household; it’s the water we swim in.
it was pretty painful but cathartic to watch. i was surprised by a lot of it. i have unanswered questions but it’s the kind of movie where that’s okay, because everything is lies to protect each other, maybe even extending orthogonally from the fourth wall to protect the audience. this is a movie about love, it lies. this is a movie about redemption. this is not a movie about being trapped by duty.
i liked it. it’s intense for me being who i am, but i liked it. the grandma waving goodbye is so sad.