Coming Home Screen 8 articles

Coming Home


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  • Admirers of Zhang Yimou’s ground-breaking work from the late 1980s and early 1990s might puzzle over his transformation from innovative artist to state-sponsored populist after seeing his latest domestic hit, Coming Home... Maturity seems to have brought not wisdom, but some form of curdled resignation, at least to the director.

  • [It's] disappointing that this film is not only from Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou—he of such memorable spectacles like Raise the Red Lantern, Hero, and the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening and closing ceremonies—but that much of it plays exactly like the bland, sentimental, and ultimately forgettable tearjerker you’d expect.

  • Zhang’s smoothly efficient direction milks the melodrama for intimate emotion, conjuring the bad old days with varnished surfaces that give unspeakable suffering a halcyon glow. The drama of Feng’s failing memory involves a bitter twist of corruption and hypocrisy, but the Party’s ultimate benevolence remains unquestioned. Zhang’s rueful sentiment bears a whiff of the official.

  • There are some pretty weird delusional syndromes out there (for example, the Capgras delusion, in which a loved one is believed to have been replaced by an identical-looking impostor), but not one quite this specific. Viewed as post-traumatic metaphor, however, it makes for an effectively cornball tearjerker, with Yanshi posing as various menial workers (piano tuner, etc.) and attempting to jog Wanyu’s memory somehow.

  • Coming Home, Zhang's first film since the 2011 historical drama The Flowers of War, is pure melodrama, with all the unfiltered feeling that promises... Coming Home comes together with soft, stippled brushstrokes rather than broad plot turns. The movie's delicate surprises take shape in the ways Lu reconnects with his wife, and in how he makes peace with Dan Dan, whose actions have driven her and her mother apart.

  • Nestled within Coming Home is a metaphor, one not about politics or cinema but about love and acceptance — about the things we expect from relationships, and the things in which we ultimately find a kind of muted happiness. As Lu and Feng struggle to reconnect, and find themselves settling for the oddest of dependencies, it’s hard to be unmoved.

  • Heartbreaking in its depiction of ordinary lives affected by political upheaval, this ode to the fundamental values that survive even under such dire circumstances has an epic gravity that recalls another great historical romance, “Doctor Zhivago.”

  • Chen shows us his character's misery in his eyes, while Gong plays against her gorgeous, poised type, receding physically into the film's background as a metaphorical illness traps Wanyu in the past. But Zhang is the most moving, as she reveals how Dandan's daring physicality—a dancer's defiant grace—is an over-compensating mask for self-loathing. Coming Home is a film in which everyone's dreams are irrevocably broken, the pieces too small to grasp, let alone pick up.

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