During the Cultural Revolution, Lu Yanshi (Chen Daoming) escapes from a labor camp to see his wife and daughter (Gong Li, Zhang Huiwen), but is found and arrested; years later when he returns home, his wife is not herself anymore… Zhang Yimou followed up his historical drama The Flowers of War (2011) with another adaptation of a Geling Yan novel, but this one is quieter. The film shows how the horrors of Mao’s policies affected ordinary human beings and shattered families. As so often in Zhang’s movies, the criticism (and sentimentality) is careful but effective because of how much we are moved by the characters. Very strong performance by Gong.
2014-China. 109 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by William Kong, Zhao Zhang. Directed by Zhang Yimou. Screenplay: Zou Jingzhi. Novel: Geling Yan (“The Criminal Lu Yanshi”). Cast: Chen Daoming (Lu Yanshi), Gong Li (Feng Wanyu), Zhang Huiwen (Dandan), Guo Tao, Liu Peiqi, Zu Feng.
Trivia: Original title: Gui lai.
Last word: “The movie is adapted from a novel by an American-based female writer called Yan Geling and she wrote ‘Coming Home’ based on her grandfather’s experience. Her grandfather was put into jail and Yan Geling found a lot of the letters and diaries of her grandfather; she spent years working on this novel. I was moved by this novel so I decided to put into a film. However, a large part of the novel couldn’t be into a film because they were too sensitive and political so I used the ending part of the novel as the beginning part of the film and created a lot of new stories.” (Zhang, Live for Films)