BASED ON AN ACTUAL LIE.
When her grandmother Nai Nai (Zhao Shuzhen) in Changchun is diagnosed with lung cancer and only has a few months left to live, Billi (Awkwafina) and her family decide not to tell Nai Nai. A drama-comedy based on the director’s personal experiences (originally developed as a radio story), addressing the clash between western individualism and the Chinese focus on family – in the middle stands a young woman who’s essentially American even if she’s struggling in New York… but China is alien to her, except her beloved grandmother. Moving and authentic, with a performance by Awkwafina that’s perfect for her character; Zhao is very sweet.
2019-U.S.-China. 100 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Anita Gou, Daniele Tate Melia, Andrew Miano, Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub, Lulu Wang, Chris Weitz, Jane Zheng. Written and directed by Lulu Wang. Cast: Awkwafina (Billi Wang), Tzi Ma (Haiyan Wang), Diana Lin (Lu Jian), Zhao Shuzhen (Nai Nai), Lu Hong, Jiang Yongbo.
Golden Globe: Best Actress (Awkwafina).
Last word: “[Awkwafina] hunched over as soon as we got back to China. At first, I had no idea why she was doing it; it looked so bad. But it really worked for the character, because she feels small. She doesn’t know her role in China, she’s not allowed to express her voice. She feels the weight on her shoulders of her family and her culture.” (Wang, The Guardian)