Scritto e diretto dalla regista cinese naturalizzata americana Lulu Wang a partire da un’esperienza personale, The Farewell (La bugia buona) affronta il tema etico della comunicazione di una diagnosi di cancro in stadio avanzato. Il diritto del paziente ad essere informato è infatti una novità dell’Occidente mentre in Cina, come in altri paesi del mondo, la comunicazione esclude intenzionalmente il diretto interessato, tenuto da medici e familiari il più possibile all’oscuro del suo destino. In attesa di visione, ecco la recensione del film di Donna Lu uscita su New Scientist
If you were diagnosed with terminal cancer, would you prefer to know about it, or to continue living in blissful ignorance as if you were perfectly healthy? This question is at the heart of the film The Farewell, written and directed by Lulu Wang.
In the film, a Chinese family decides not to tell their grandmother, Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao), that she has stage-four lung cancer. The film’s title gives away its premise: under the pretence of a cousin’s wedding, the family stage a long-overdue reunion in China to give everyone a chance to say goodbye.
The Farewell, billed as being “based on a true lie”, originates from Wang’s life. Her grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013 and given three months to live. Like the film’s protagonist, the Chinese-American granddaughter Billi (Awkwafina), Wang was troubled by her family’s decision to withhold the diagnosis from her Nai Nai.
The prevailing narrative of “battling cancer” in Western society has its own issues, with its discourse of personal triumph that values individual responsibility and determination. But the alternative – to lie outright – might seem inconceivable, particularly to those accustomed to the norms of Western culture. It is, however, a common practice in China, rooted in the belief that telling a person about their diagnosis can make their condition deteriorate quicker.
“Chinese people have a saying: when people get cancer, they die. But it’s not the cancer that kills them, it’s the fear,” says Billi’s mother (Diana Lin).