In “The Farewell,” now out in theaters, family members choose not to tell the matriarch (“Nai Nai”) of her terminal lung cancer diagnosis. They use the pretext of a wedding to get the family together in China so that they can spend time with Nai Nai one last time without actually saying goodbye. The well-meaning thought is that she will be happier and live longer if she thinks she’s healthy.
Written and directed by Lulu Wang, the critically-acclaimed film is promoted as being “based on an actual lie.” Wang explained a few years ago on the radio program This American Life that the story came from her own family’s experience.
In the movie version of the tale, Nai Nai’s granddaughter Billi (played by Awkwafina) who has grown up in the United States struggles with whether withholding the truth from Nai Nai is the right thing to do.
What if we import this story into the Golden State? Could Nai Nai, if a resident of California, be kept in the dark about her cancer diagnosis?