Zhang Yimou’s Coming home is set in the 70s during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Feng Wanyu (Gong Li) is a teacher who lives alone with her daughter, Dandan (Zhang Huiwen). One day, Yu (Wanyu’s short name) learns that Lu Yanshi (Chen Daoming), her husband and Dandan’s father, has escaped from the labor camp where he was sent for “re-education”. The authorities are now trying to find him and order Yu and Dandan to inform them should Lu try to get in contact with them. Dandan is a ballet student seeking a main part in The red detachment of women, one of those political dances that were performed at the time, and she blames her father for her lack of success. She will surely go to the police if Lu shows up. But Yu is not indoctrinated like her daughter and still loves her husband. Not wanting to spoil the film, I am going to jump to the second part of Coming home. We are now after the revolution and Lu has been released from the camps. But Lu only finds despair when he comes home and his wife does not recognize him. She is suffering from some form of amnesia. Yu still believe that her husband will soon come home, so she regularly goes to the train station to wait for him, but every time Lu comes to see her, she takes him for someone else. This is exquisite storytelling. Coming home is a melodrama, a tearjerker, but Yimou’s direction is so delicate, and the three leads are so precise and subtle that you tiptoe through the film discovering every scenes as if it was some priced and rare treasure. In the first part of the film, Gong Li keeps us on the edge of our seat. What a performance! Coming home is a moving film about the resilience of love.
Rémi- Serge Gratton
Coming home (Gui lai)
Based on the novel by Yan Geling
Rated Parental Guidance
In Mandarin with English subtitles