Coming Home

"Heartbreaking in its depiction of ordinary lives affected by political upheaval... has an epic gravity that recalls another great historical romance, Doctor Zhivago." - Variety

“A testament to Zhang Yimou’s extraordinary skill. At his best, Zhang Yimou integrates image, action, and character into a soaring metaphor of the human condition. Many of his films — 'Red Sorghum' (1987), 'Raise the Red Lantern' (1991), 'To Live' (1994) — star Gong Li. In the heartbreaking melodrama 'Coming Home,' both the director and the actress triumph.

“Lu (Daoming Chen) is an outspoken intellectual who has fallen foul of China's Cultural Revolution. He spends 20 years in a labour camp, despite a brief and heartbreaking escape. Finally released, he heads home to Feng (Gong Li), the wife whose love has kept him strong, only to find that her mind is going and she can no longer recognise him. Despite interventions by sympathetic party officials and by daughter Dan Dan, it proves impossible for him to live with her, so he takes advantage of her amnesia to present himself in several different guises as a visitor to the house, just to talk and be near her. Meanwhile she continues to long for the husband she loves, to hang on his letters and to visit the station where she expects his train will soon arrive.

“A thoughtful exploration of the nature of love and identity, 'Coming Home' has something in common with 'Still Alice' in its portrait of a woman who has lost her memories but remains intellectually alert and retains the emotional core of her selfhood. Lu comes to terms with his own guilt at having failed to put his family first, and gradually unravels the mystery of what happened after he was gone, while Dan Dan deals with weighty secrets of her own and with the burden of her mother's resentment.

“As beautifully shot as all the director's work, the film has a hypnotic quality. In suggesting that love can still find away to survive in such troubled spaces, it may represent a form of reconciliation between the director and a state that has often sought to censor his work. What is lost is lost, but on the station platform there is still a dream worth waiting for.” - Jennie Kermode


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