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  • Writer's pictureS.J.

Quick Reviews: 'The Farewell', 'The Report' | Awkwafina, Family, Adam Driver, Political Drama

Awkwafina and the fam on a street, Adam Driver showing a document
The Farewell (L), The Report (R)


The Farewell is one of the most heartfelt movies out there. It’s a film which deals with the loss of a loved one who is still among us and mixes it with dignity or pride that you wish to leave with from this world. Autobiographical to writer-director's life herself, Lulu Wang is making a mark with this one.

It’s very rare nowadays that the story of a movie surprises you by being extremely original. The Farewell does this. Sprinkling in some heartbreaking conversations between characters, Wang’s screenplay is worthy of the brilliant concept of a film. Playing the tough-but-full-of-love grandmother that we as viewers instantly connect to, Zhao Shuzhen (as Nai Nai) brings out one of the better supporting performances of 2019. Her and Awkwafina (Billi) are an absolutely captivating pair to watch.

The Farewell doesn’t really have much dragging it down, neither from technical or performance side. The wedding of Hao Hao (Chen Han) and Aiko (Aoi Mizuhara) doesn’t really serve the overall story and takes you a bit out of the movie. I do feel like there was something left on the table regarding the family relationships.

Smileys: Originality, Zhao Shuzhen, Awkwafina, screenplay, tone

Frowneys: Some issues with acting

It pulls your heartstrings, makes you want to call your grandparent and is a showcase of Lulu Wang’s talent as a writer.


Awkwafina and the family next to a bunch of stores


The Report feels like a stack of homework given to you but something that kind of interests you after getting some explanation. Director-writer Scott Z. Burns throws a lot at you and some you catch, some you miss. It’s based on an actual investigation about CIA’s torturing and political games after the events of September 11th, 2001.

What carries this movie is the atmosphere. The sensation of finding things along with Daniel (played by Adam Driver) keeps your eyes glued to the screen and the new discoveries also moves the story along. Making the dialogue pop in a film that’s based on a 6,000-page report is a commendable effort. Also the props department deserves some praise especially for the main room where the report is made, those small items really seem like they’re fighting against something big.

However the film’s visual bleakness and unremarkable shots takes a lot out of it. There’s no real standout performances nor are there anything grabbing to brag about. Much of the runtime turns into a dull experience.

Smileys: Dialogue, editing

Frowneys: Directing

It’s just a bit dry, just like homework.


Adam Driver showing a heavily redacted report
Amazon Studios

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