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A Family’s Real-Life Lie and the Movie That Complicated It

来源:纽约时报    2019-07-09 06:09

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        SANTA MONICA, Calif. — In 2013, the director Lulu Wang was told that her grandmother had Stage 4 lung cancer and had three months to live. The family had decided not to tell the matriarch of the diagnosis, believing that no good could come of it, and devised an elaborate ruse — a wedding banquet, in her hometown Changchun — as an excuse for everyone to go to China to see her one last time.        加利福尼亚州圣莫尼卡——2013年,导演王子逸(Lulu Wang)得知祖母得了四期肺癌,只能活三个月。一家人决定不把诊断结果告诉这位女家长,认为这样做没什么好处,还想了一个精心设计的计策——在她的家乡长春举办一场婚礼——以这样的名义让所有人去中国见她最后一面。
        Wang thought the situation, with its mix of pathos and absurdity, would make a fine film, but she couldn’t find any takers. With its all-Asian cast, she was told, it was too Chinese for the American market. “And when I pitched it to Chinese producers, they were like, ‘Why is this dramatic? Everybody in China does this.’”        王子逸觉得,像这样痛苦与荒谬交织的情形能拍出一部好电影,但却找不到买家。她被告知,全亚裔演员阵容对于美国市场太过中国化。“而当我把它推销给中国的制片人时,他们的反应是,‘这有什么戏剧性?在中国人人都这么做。’”
        The story of love and deception forms the basis of Wang’s new comic drama, “The Farewell.” Billed as “based on an actual lie,” the film premiered at Sundance in January, where it earned rave reviews for both Wang’s directing and the performance of Nora Lum, a.k.a. the rapper Awkwafina, who appears in her first dramatic lead role.        这则爱与欺骗的故事,成为王子逸的喜剧片新作《别告诉她》(The Farewell)的基础。影片自称是“据一个真实谎言改编而成”,于1月份在圣丹斯电影节首映,在那里因王子逸的导演和林家珍(Nora Lum)的表演获得了热烈好评。林家珍,也就是说唱歌手奥卡菲娜(Awkwafina),是首次主演剧情片。
        In the film, Lum stars as Billi, an aspiring artist in Brooklyn who wrestles with keeping the secret from Nai Nai, her grandmother (played by Zhao Shuzhen). Shouldn’t we tell Nai Nai that she’s dying?, Billi wonders. Six years later, however, with the real Nai Nai very much alive, “The Farewell” raises yet another question: Shouldn’t we tell Nai Nai that we made a movie about it?        林家珍在片中饰演生活在布鲁克林、怀着艺术家梦想的比莉(Billi),对奶奶(赵淑珍饰)保守这个秘密令她感到为难。比莉常想,我们难道不该告诉奶奶她要死了吗?而六年后,当真实生活中的奶奶依然健在,《别告诉她》引出了另一个问题:我们难道不该告诉奶奶,我们拍了一部关于她的电影吗?
        On a recent afternoon at a Venezuelan cafe not far from the director’s home here in Santa Monica (she rolled up for the interview on her Segway hoverboard), Wang spoke about how often Asians now tell her about their own similar family secrets (“a lot, and not just Asians”), and her early struggles in finding backers for the movie. “Nobody wanted to make this film,” she said.        不久前的一个下午,在离导演位于圣莫妮卡的家不远处的一个委内瑞拉咖啡馆(她踩着她的赛格威[Segway]平衡车前来接受采访),王子逸说起如今亚裔人如何经常告诉她他们家里类似的秘密(“很多,而且不止亚裔”),还有初期她为给电影找投资所经历的挣扎。“当时没人想拍这部片子,”她说。
        After several producers passed on it, Wang told her story in a 2016 episode of “This American Life.” The podcast included 2013 interviews with family members, many of whom felt that, given Nai Nai’s advanced age (she was 80 at the time), the shock of the news might be worse for her than the cancer. There were also more recent interviews conducted after her grandmother was in the clear. “Nai Nai had already outlived her three-month prognosis, so my dad was like, ‘See, we did the right thing!’” Wang said. “The whole family was happy to talk about it.”        在被几个制片人拒绝后,王子逸在2016年的一期《美国生活》(This American Life)上讲述了她的故事。这期播客中有2013年对家人的采访,他们许多人感觉,奶奶年事已高(她当时80岁),消息造成的打击可能会比癌症对她更加不利。还有近来奶奶脱离生命危险后的一些采访。“奶奶已经活过她三个月的预后,于是爸爸说,‘你看,我们做的是对的!’”王子逸说。“全家人都很乐意谈论这件事。”
        Nor were they all that concerned about news of “This American Life” getting back to Nai Nai. “They thought it was this niche thing,” she said. “It’s a very American show.”        他们对《美国生活》重新关注奶奶的新闻也没太放在心上。“他们以为就是个小众的东西,”她说。“那是个很美国的节目。”
        After the episode ran, however, Wang couldn’t get the idea of a film out of her head. A documentary wasn’t an option, she said, because “I’d have to explain to my grandmother why we’re in her house shooting.”        而在这期节目播出后,王子逸没法放下拍一部电影的想法。她说,拍纪录片是不可能的,因为“那样我就得跟奶奶解释,我们为什么要在她的家里拍。”
        But when Wang and her crew finally began shooting the feature in 2018, they ended up, yes, in Nai Nai’s house and hometown. Wang wanted to film in the area, she said, because so many of the traditions were so specific to that region. And if she were in the area anyway, why not just film in Changchun? “My grandma was like, why would you come back to China to shoot a movie and not shoot it at home, where I can see you?” she said.        但当王子逸和她的剧组2018年终于开始拍摄这部长片时,没错,他们最后还是到了奶奶的家和她的家乡。王子逸说,她想在这个地方拍,因为里面很多传统都是那个地区特有的。如果她本来就在这一带,为什么不直接在长春拍呢?“奶奶的反应是,你为什么要回中国来拍一部电影,却不在家里拍,这样我能看见你?”她说。
        The shoot provided an opportunity for Lum and the rest of the cast to meet the real Nai Nai. “I think she was really proud of Lulu,” Lum said. “She would love to come to set and hang out and joke around. She had one of those motorized scooters, and Lulu had this hoverboard, and between takes they would race.”        拍摄给了林家珍和其他演员一个见到奶奶本人的机会。“我想她对子逸真的很自豪,”林家珍说。“她很喜欢来片场看看,四处逛逛,开开玩笑。她有那种电动踏板车,子逸有个平衡车,拍摄之余她们还会比比谁快。”
        The film was also a once-in-a-lifetime chance for Nai Nai to see what her granddaughter does for a living. A classically trained pianist, Wang had worked on music videos and web shorts before directing her first feature, “Posthumous,” a 2015 rom-com. “To her, it’s like, ‘is this a hobby?'” Wang said. “But when I brought home producers, to her it was like, ‘you’re the boss of all these white people?’ I think it was just such a transformational moment of pride for her.”        影片也给了奶奶一个千载难逢的机会,可以看看孙女的工作都忙些什么。学古典钢琴出身的王子逸此前一直拍摄音乐录影带和网络短片,后来拍摄了她的第一部长片、2015年的浪漫喜剧《身后事》(Posthumous)。“对她来说就像是,‘这是个爱好吗?’”王子逸说。“但当我把一个个制片人带到家里时,她会说,‘你是所有这些白人的老板?’我想那真是让她感到自豪的一个转折瞬间。”
        Even so, the cast and crew kept the plot of the film under wraps when Nai Nai was around. So what did she think the movie was about? “She thought that the movie was loosely based on our family, with everybody coming back to China for a wedding,” Wang said. “There are cultural differences, and hilarity ensues.”        即便如此,奶奶在场时,演员和工作人员都对剧情秘而不宣。那么她觉得这部片子是讲什么的呢?“她以为这个电影大体上是以我们一家为主线,大家都回中国来参加一场婚礼,”王子逸说。“其中有文化差异,也有随之而来的欢闹。”
        For Lum, playing a character who’s lying through much of the film wasn’t such a stretch. “I’m ashamed to admit how normal it felt,” she said. “I feel that in any family, there are just those ways of behaving. It was the realest character I’ve ever played, just in terms of natural things I would do, as Nora, with my own family.”        对林家珍而言,扮演一个从头到尾在撒谎的角色没那么难。“我很不好意思承认,这感觉上有多正常,”她说。“我感到在任何家庭中,都有那样的行事方式。这是我演过的最真实的角色,就是我本身在自己家里就会做的事情。”
        Wang took a leap of faith in casting Lum. “This was before ‘Ocean’s 8’ and ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ so I only knew her from her music videos,” she said. “When my producer brought her up to me, I was like, ‘That’s the girl who did ‘My Vag.’ Why would you think she should play me in a dramatic movie?”        选择林家珍参演,对王子逸是一次冒险。“这是在《瞒天过海:美人计》(Ocean's 8)和《疯狂的亚洲富人》(Crazy Rich asian)之前,所以我是通过她的音乐录影带了解到她的,”她说。“当制片人把她带到我面前时,我在想,‘这是那个拍了《我的阴》(My Vag)的女孩。你为什么会觉得她应该在一部剧情片里扮演你自己呢?”
        “I think we bonded over the fact that she had been raised by her Chinese grandmother as well,” Wang continued. “And she was very self-deprecating. She told me, ‘I really want to do this, but nobody’s giving me a chance because they see Awkwafina and that’s all that they think that I am.’”        “我想我们的共同点,是她也是由中国的祖母带大,”王子逸接着说。“而且她很会自嘲。她跟我说,‘我真想做这个,但没人会给我机会,因为他们看到的是奥卡菲娜,她们就觉得我就只是那个样子。’”
        Wang also gambled in casting Hong Lu, Nai Nai’s real-life sister, to play herself. Lu, who made the initial decision not to tell Nai Nai about her diagnosis, had never been in a film before in her life. “When Lulu first approached me, I refused,” she said, speaking by phone from Changchun.        让奶奶真实生活中的妹妹陆虹(音)本色出演,王子逸同样是搏了一把。诊断结果不告诉奶奶的决定起初是她做的,她那时一生中从来没拍过电影。“子逸第一次联系我时,我拒绝了,”她从长春接受电话采访时说。
        Wang recalled the refusal. “She kept saying, ‘This is Hollywood, I have a fat face, I’m not an actor, I’m going to ruin your movie,'” she said.        王子逸回忆起那次拒绝经历。“她不停地说,‘这是好莱坞,我脸很胖,我不是演员,我会毁了你的片子,’”她说。
        But the director was sure she could do it, in part because she had lived it. But that fact brought with it other concerns. “Is this even acting, or is it so real that we’re actually traumatizing her? Is it ethical to make her relive this experience, and feel all these feelings?”        但这位导演确信她能做到,部分是因为她有生活基础。但这个事实也牵扯出了其他问题。“这还算不算在表演,还是说太真实了,以至于我们实际上是在让她遭受精神创伤?让她重新经历这种体验,感受所有这些情感,合乎道德吗?”
        “The movie made me experience the sadness and the grief again,” Hong admitted. “I still sometimes question myself, did I make the right decision, even in my dreams. But I had a lot of fun also, to be honest with you. Especially working with Lulu.”        “这部片子让我再度经历了那些痛苦与悲伤,”陆虹坦言。“有时我仍会问自己,我是否做了正确的决定,甚至会梦到这样的情景。但坦白讲,我也得到了很多乐趣,特别是和子逸一起做事。”
        In the end, even after “This American Life,” the making of the film, the Sundance acclaim and the subsequent bidding war, Wang remains unsure about how she feels about the lie. Nai Nai still hasn’t seen the movie (and still doesn’t know what it’s about), while Wang wonders how the whole notion of filial piety, that Confucian tenet of respecting one’s elders so treasured by the Chinese, fits into her family’s decision.        到最后,即便在《美国生活》播出、影片拍摄完成、圣丹斯电影节获得好评并经历了后来的竞价战之后,王子逸依然不确定她对这个谎言的感受。奶奶还没看过电影(也仍然不知道它的内容),而王子逸还在思考,所谓的孝道,也就是中国人无比珍视的儒家尊老思想,在她家人的决定中起了怎样的作用。
        “People ask me all the time, ‘Do you think what they did was right? Do you now support the lie?’ And I don’t have a clear answer,” Wang said. “I don’t know what’s right. I do know that the lie has allowed me to spend three months in China with my grandmother. It’s allowed me to have all of these experiences with my family that I would not have had otherwise. But on an ethical level, I’m still torn.”        “人们一直都在问我,‘你觉得他们做的是对的吗?你现在支持这个谎言吗?’但我没有一个明确的答案,”王子逸说。“我不知道什么是对的。我确实知道的是,这个谎言让我和祖母在中国度过了三个月时光。它让我拥有了和家人的所有这些平常不会有的经历。但从道德层面上说,我还是很矛盾。”

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