Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Veteran Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou is the master of emotional nuance. In haunting, deeply textured films like Raise the Red Lantern and The Road Home, he suggests oceans of feeling roiling beneath the surface of the slightest glance or gesture. His new film Coming Home, is a spare, simple-seeming, deeply resonant story whose life-sized characters will break your heart.

Scripted by Jingzhi Zhou (from a novel by Yan Geling), the film tells a moving story of love, loss, and attempted reconciliation beginning in the final years of Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

As in most of Zhang’s work, the ongoing political turmoil of 20th-century China is a huge factor in the lives of ordinary people just trying to scrape by and survive. This film makes cataclysmic political events personal by exploring their impact on individual lives.

Lovely Gong Li (Zhang’s longtime muse) stars as Yu, a teacher, whose husband has been in a labor camp for so long, her 13-year-old ballet dancer daughter, Dandan (the excellent Zhang Huiwen) doesn't even remember him. When the Cultural Revolution is declared over, prisoners are released.

But the happy homecoming Yu's husband, Lu (the wonderful Chen Daoming) yearns for is shattered when he finds Yu suffering from a  form of amnesia and doesn’t recognize him.

To make things more poignant for Lu, his wife knows that her beloved husband is coming home and goes every day to the train station to meet him, but she’s unable to see in Lu the man she loves.

Zhang plays the material as a chamber piece for three voices, full of small, resonant notes to be savored. (Read more)

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