ROGER THOMAS FILM REVIEW: ‘The Farewell’: film about family, sickness and love.

Published 9:26 am Thursday, August 15, 2019

I have written before about films that have subtitles. Many people I know do not want to read subtitles during the film. So they refuse to watch any films that have subtitles. These people miss out on many fine films.

Just last year a great film from Mexico, “Roma,” almost won the Best Picture Academy Award. “Roma” did win the Oscar for the Best Foreign Film. And though my favorite film, “Green Book,” won, I am pretty sure “Roma” came in a close second.

Roger Thomas

So I am not bothered when films have subtitles. However, when a film has so many subtitles one cannot possibly read them all, I have to admit that frustrates me.

“The Farewell” definitely has a great many subtitles — more than I could read with my slow eyes, but there were several other positive qualities of the film I did like.

The film is set in modern China. There is an extended family. The film is directed and written by by Lulu Wang. There are several elements of the film that are captivating.

First, I like this big family that is the heart of the film. My mother had four sisters and two brothers. As I watched the film, I thought of all the siblings my mother had and the many times we were together for special occasions or for just no reason. The heart of this film is about family.

Another trait of the film is about love. I do not want to give away too much of the story, but I will say that the family all agree on a decision that will protect one of the aunts. She does not have the information the others have and they spend the whole film trying to keep her from hearing the news.

As I said earlier, my mother lived in a family that was larger than most families these days: seven children, eventually 16 grandchildren and countless great-grandchildren. That family was the heart of everything when my grandmother, aunts and uncles were living and being leaders of the family, at least my mother’s branch of it. “The Farewell” captures the atmosphere of a large family, during the good and the bad.

There are also secrets in the film. As with most families, there is information that is spoken and some words that are not spoken to all. That is part of family life.

Finally, watch to the end credits. There is a wonderful note about these characters. Before seeing this film’s production, I thought the film was completely fictional, but apparently the story was crafted based on true events.

That little bit in the midst of the final film credits was almost enough for me to forgive the short subtitles — that was how good that flash was.

Perhaps when the the film comes out on cable channels or some of the other ways we receive films these days, more will be bold and seek out the film.

Once again, the speedy subtitles are frustrating, but the rest almost makes up for it. Be patient and I believe you will find what I eventually did.

So the film has love, humor, surprises, family lives and many more attributes you will discover.

But allow me to say one more time, I wished the subtitles had been up longer or the film slower, but oh well. Once again, the story has love, humor, family, celebrations and many more fine elements in family life.

Roger W. Thomas of Albemarle reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.