Yon call it a ZHANG YIMOU film, hence the furore, shouldn’t it be so?
I am not an avid follower of his big scale productions.
However, I do relish his less ambiguous works of the grassroots era and humbler as they were, they were the ones that really shone. At least for me.
In HOMECOMING I adore the simplicity and purity of the narrative form. ZHANG knows how to weave an arresting film into your heart.
He highlights the complexity the actors have to struggle with, displaying raw emotions and motives required of the screen characters. These elements are admirably harnessed. This is a difficult project to embark upon, given whatever period restrictions.
You can feel the presence of ZHANG YIMOU always, pulling us closer through the realm of history, making the journey poignant, substantial and real.
From this we know that he is still the master craftsman of the grassroots genre. And HOMECOMING is his film.
Let us start with an interesting insight:
On 27th March, 2014,Taiwan born American film director ANG LEE was generous in showering praises for Chinese mainland director ZHANG YIMOU.
ZHANG has temporarily shed his colossal scale image in his new film HOMECOMING 歸來. Never say never, I think.
The two filmmakers happily shared boisterous views on the highs and lows of gregarious film making, in a “talk shop manner”, courtesy of the New York University on March 27, 2014.
ZHANG pointed out that he has fallen back to his grassroots yard, as you can observe in his latest delivery.
This change may have been brought about by personal, creative or commercial reasons, because some of his latest huge budget films have tanked at the box office. Not a good sign, especially when there are scores of younger directors scrambling to break in.
This latest venture has been inspired by author Yang Geling’s novel “The Criminal Lu Yanshi”.
HOMECOMING bags an emotive love story that spans over seven decades of an upright man’s tortuous incarceration and a forceful separation from his family, during the madness of the Cultural Revolution.
In this film, you will be swarmed with the intense pacing of anguish, pain, rage and sorrow gushing through your veins as though you were there in every scene, living the situation.
My fellow colleague who was with me at this preview bawled. Big men don’t cry? Guess this notion is proven wrong now.
I can identify with writer Brian Jacques when he admonishes us to express ourselves: “Don’t be ashamed to weep, it’s right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees and fruits cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and devotion of our beloved ones sealed inside will surface to welcome us.”
Metaphorically, HOMECOMING is one movie that resonates with the vivid colors of spring and the gloom of autumn, aside the superb acting of the two leads.
No spoilers to mar the plot? I will try.
COMING HOME reunites director ZHANG and actress GONG LI since their last collaboration on the opulent period piece Curse Of The Golden Flower (2006). And this time again, ZHANG still able to draw an award winning performance from his iconic muse.
Observe her confused reaction when the couple meets again for the first time in years.
When her husband (LU YAN SHI) did finally arrive home, her calm misdemeanor baffles everyone, in contrast to everyone’s expectations.
There is no joy, no embrace, just quiet contentment. The wife is in the throes of amnesia.
This is a tragedy of a family torn apart by the madness of the Cultural Revolution.
Extraordinarily, the tragic conclusion will definitely linger against a lilting piano piece, in the minds of the audience. long after they step out of the cinema.
Ending scene: The amnesiac wife strikes a lonesome figure, standing forlornly at the Station, waiting for the imaginary return of the husband.