Approx advert and trailer run time: 25 mins
Film run time: 1h 40min
Awkwafina leads a poignant yet hilarious, cross-cultural yet universal ensemble piece on family, tradition, and loss.
Billi, a Chinese-born would-be-writer, has spent most of her life drifting through New York, but keeps ties to her home through calls to her aging grandmother Nai Nai. When said grandmother is given a fatal diagnosis, her family plans to gather at her side one more time during a family wedding – without ever telling her that she is dying, in the traditional belief that it will spare her pain. Initially let out of the arrangement to avoid revealing the ruse, Billi rushes home to China, intent on doing just that. This becomes harder than anticipated, as love for her family, respect for her homeland, and the farcical complications of wedding planning all intervene.
While belonging to a dubious line of culture-clash comedies, writer-director Lulu Wang transcends obvious punchlines in favour of sympathy for all characters, letting the comedy and pathos arise in natural, all-too-recognisable ways. Though the film is deeply rooted in Chinese culture, it captures widely recognisable moods and situations: of being adrift from family and home, of loving and hating them at once, of struggling to let them go.