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Jason Johnson
Friday, May 30, 2014

Showbiz

Movie date: Coming Home

The New Paper | Jason Johnson | Friday, May 30, 2014

Cinema Still : Coming Home, starring Gong Li

MOVIE DATE

STARRING: Gong Li, Chen Daoming, Zhang Huiwen

DIRECTOR: Zhang Yimou

THE SKINNY: During the Cultural Revolution in China, a professor Lu (Chen) is sent to a re-education camp, leaving his wife Feng (Gong Li) and daughter (Zhang) to fend for themselves. Lu attempts and fails to escape with the help of Feng, and unfortunately she bonks her head and develops amnesia. Years later, Lu is released, but Feng can no longer remember him.

RATING: PG

There was a time when I loved master director Zhang Yimou.

His ravishingly beautiful early films - Ju Dou, Raise The Red Lantern - helped fuel my fascination with the East, a fascination that eventually led me to move here.

His leading lady, Gong Li, who used to be an incredible beauty, was obviously a big part of the allure.

Now Li and Zhang have reunited for Coming Home and it makes me feel very old indeed. At the age of 48, Gong Li now looks every inch the aunty.

Of course, she has been dressed down for the role, but it is still startling to see her looking like a human being as opposed to a goddess.

Frankly speaking, I felt really bored while watching the film, but now looking back, I feel fondly toward it.

Zhang is famous for creating visual fireworks, but here he tries to do something much more subtle with the look of the piece, and it mostly works.

Another thing that distinguishes this film from much of Zhang's output is that it is more of a melodrama than an out-and-out tragedy. He seems to have mellowed in his old age.

That does not mean, however, that Zhang has become totally toothless.

The allegory in Coming Home is not subtle at all.

This is an overtly political film about human lives seriously compromised by oppression. The disgust is still there even if the fury has subsided.

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