Fresh off a Golden Globe win for Awkwafina’s breakout role, the critically acclaimed film is opening in China on Friday.
After months of delay, The Farewell is finally heading to theaters in China.
Ahead of its wide release, the local distributor has whipped up a tearjerker promo that’s making the rounds on the Chinese internet—and sure to have some people calling their grandparents.
The critically acclaimed film, which earned Awkwafina a Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy, is opening in China on Friday after an initial release date of Nov. 22 was pushed back.
Directed by Chinese-American Lulu Wang, The Farewell is based on the true story of her family’s efforts to hide a fatal diagnosis from her grandmother, going as far as staging a fake wedding to organize one last reunion.
Although the film was mostly shot in China and contains about 80% Mandarin Chinese dialogue, producers reportedly had trouble selling it to a Chinese distributor because the story was seen as “too American.”
(Read more: ‘The Farewell’ is up for best ‘foreign’ film. Chinese audiences don’t think it should be.)
Ultimately, Chinese ticketing app Maoyan picked it up and recently released a promo to make it relatable to Chinese audiences.
In the trailer—shot on a minimal set with a white background—four grandchildren and their grandparents each share a secret they’ve been keeping from each other.
One grandfather recalls falling off his bike and not telling his family about the hospital visit as to not alarm them, echoing a scene in The Farewell where the grandmother does the same.
A grandmother tells of how she kept a parents’ divorce secret from her grandchildren. (One of the grandchildren, in turn, shares that she knew about the divorce all along.)
Another grandmother says she hid news of a grandfather’s death because the granddaughter loved him so much. Another granddaughter confesses that she doesn’t feel loved by her grandparents.
Each side sits down face to face and shares their secret, leading to tearful hugs and reconciliation.
The Farewell has received near universal acclaim in the United States, with a freshness score of 99% on Rotten Tomatoes.
But in China, some reviewers who saw it abroad or online have called the film an outsider’s perspective of China, echoing the same criticism that befell Crazy Rich Asians when it premiered in Asia.
(Read more: Can an Asian-American film do well in China?)
The promo appears to temper some of the assumptions about the The Farewell’s performance in China when it heads to theaters on Friday. The motivations that drive family secrets—an overwhelming sense of protective love and fear of burdening others—are as present in the film as they are in Chinese society.
And if the tearjerker video isn’t enough to get Chinese audiences into theaters, then maybe this eccentric poster of the Chinese god of longevity might just do the trick.
They made a new poster for our China release, and let’s just say the marketing team took a few liberties... CAPTION THIS? pic.twitter.com/nnXdRA33oF
— Lulu Wang (@thumbelulu) January 7, 2020