After giving breakout performances in last year’s “Ocean’s 8” and “Crazy Rich Asians,” actress, comedian and rapper Awkwafina has another big year ahead, with a Comedy Central television series in the works, as well as her dramatic debut in this summer’s “The Farewell.”
The film looks like an emotional wallop, based on its first trailer, released Tuesday by celebrated indie studio A24, which acquired the film after its critically acclaimed debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
Director Lulu Wang based the film on her family, developing the project after first telling the story on an episode of public radio’s “This American Life” in 2016.
In the film, New York City-based artist Billi (Awkwafina) finds out her family in China has been hiding her grandmother’s cancer diagnosis from her grandmother herself.
While visiting her grandmother and attending her cousin’s wedding ― which her father says is a ruse to reunite the family ― Billi grapples with trying to keep the secret. She also sees the elaborate lengths to which the family goes to try to keep her grandmother from finding out, in order “to not ruin her good mood,” as one of Billi’s relatives says in the trailer.
“Should we tell her? Isn’t it wrong to lie?” Billi asks a doctor.
“It’s a good lie,” the doctor responds. “Most families in China would choose not to tell her.”
Billi grapples with the differences between how Eastern and Western cultures deal with death and other existential issues, representative of the larger identity crisis that Asian Americans often face.
Watch the trailer above.
“The Farewell” premieres in theaters on July 12.