A headstrong Chinese-American woman returns to China when her beloved grandmother is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Billi struggles with her family's decision to keep grandma in the dark about her own illness as they all stage an impromptu wedding to see grandma one last time.
Are you going to tell Nai Nai?
I can't, Billi. I won't go against my family.
Billi, there are things you misunderstand. You guys moved to the West long ago. You think one's life belongs to oneself. But that's the difference between the East and the West. In the East, a person's life is part of a whole. Family. Society.
You want to tell Nai Nai the truth, because you're afraid to take the responsibility for her. Because it's too big of a burden. If you tell her, then you don't have to ...
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Shuzhen Zhao's hospital report says she has terminal cancer. She has perhaps four months to live. They don't tell her. Instead, the family rushes the marriage of Awkafina's cousin so that they can gather with one one last time, without letting her know anything is wrong.
It's been many years since a good friend insisted I look at Ang Lee's THE WEDDING BANQUET and EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN one after the other. When they were done, he said "Well?" and I said "They're so Jewish!" With his comedies of manners about an emigrant culture that sustains itself willy-nilly, rejected by and rejecting the mainstream, both groups are similar in their reliance on family and the dinner table as a means of staying together. Writer-director Lulu Wang's movie is of a piece with these two, with some very entertaining performances, and insight into what family means to people who are forced to be apart.
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