Awkwafina’s latest role in “The Farewell” has her showing off dramatic chops, and delicately dancing around a touchy subject. Watch the trailer above.
Awkwafina (Nora Lum) plays Billi, a Chinese-born, American-raised young woman who reluctantly returns to her hometown in Changchun to spend time with her beloved grandmother Nai-Nai after she’s been given just two weeks to live. But the whole family has decided not to tell Nai-Nai herself about her life-threatening diagnosis, and Billi has to grapple with holding in her family’s “good lie.”
“You think one’s life belongs to one’s self. That’s the difference between East and West,” one of Billi’s relatives says in the first trailer for the film. “In the East, a person’s life is part of a whole. Family.”
Awkwafina told TheWrap following its Sundance premiere that she doubted whether she could do the material justice and embrace a truly dramatic turn.
“You couldn’t just get a spec script on this and just be like, ‘Oh, that’s a fun fiction story,'” she said. “This is real, it’s coming from the heart, it’s written from the heart. The characters are based on very multi-dimensional Asian people, almost to the point where they’re accidentally Asian and they’re just human.”
Lulu Wang wrote and directed “The Farewell” based on “an actual lie,” and the movie is a celebration of family and the culture clash between Chinese and American values. The film was a critical darling at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, playing in the dramatic competition slate.
“The Farewell” opens in theaters July 12.