Jacob’s review published on Letterboxd:
It’s rare I write something personal on here, but it’s relevant enough and hard not to with a film like this.
So last month my Filipino grandfather passed and it was a very rough time emotionally for us. Our entire family felt deeply saddened by his loss, but also thankful to have gotten to see Papa one last time and to see our family together once again. We cried a lot as expected, but we also shared many funny and great memories about Papa and how much of a positive impact he’s had in our family.
It’s great to see a film like this touch on the tradition of lying to a gravely ill family member to not have them fear dying and also being an Asian child growing up in America despite family growing up in the East and adjusting to traditions. Similar thing with my Papa who was going thru a brain tumor years ago and refused to take medicine the doctor would give him cause he didn’t want to believe he was sick. So our whole family found it best not to insist him that he was dying. Years passed and he made it to 93. Also much like the wedding in the film, we threw a birthday party at our grandparents house so we could all see him before he’d pass. As far as i know most Americans probably don’t go this far to lie to their own family member about death, but as shown in the movie it’s a common tradition in Asia, especially China.
Performances are spot on with this subject matter and Awkwafina is as real as you’d get here. I see many of my own family members in Lulu Wang’s family. My only issue i have with this film would be it’s slow pacing in various scenes which on one hand adds to the sad realism of the story yet also would’ve been fine had minutes been cut. Still it’s a very touching and personal film with a lot of heart, humor, and compassion and it’s no doubt one of 2019’s movies worth checking out.
“One's life in the East is part of a whole. Family. Society.”