When you see the trailer for Coming Home, Zhang Yimou's latest project, you may not feel intrigued by it at first, due to the film's senior cast and historic setting.
But rest assured, Coming Home will draw you in with its emotionally charged story of love, joy and sorrow.
The movie follows a devoted couple, Lu Yanshi (Chen Daoming) and Feng Wanyu (Gong Li), who are separated when Lu is arrested as a political prisoner. Released during the last days of the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), Lu finally returns home only to find that his beloved wife has amnesia and is unable to recognize him. As a stranger in his broken family, Lu decides to resurrect their past together and reawaken his wife's memory.
Just like the story suggests, Coming Home is a tearjerker. But different from those movies that make the audience cry by being evocative, such as Feng Xiaogang's Aftershock or Pixar's Toy Story 3, director Zhang's idea of moving the audience is quite special, and makes the most of his delicate skills.
In Coming Home, Zhang deals with a dramatic story in such a quiet way that the audience's emotions are drawn out little by little by the main characters, as they struggle in pain while their heroic inner strength shines.
So, when you cry — and very likely you will — you will understand why: Because you wish a future happiness for the characters, and maybe because you can imagine the story having happened to your grandparents.
Another impressive aspect is how Zhang uses "amnesia", a narrative technique that's more common in romantic comedies. For that, he has Gong Li to thank the most. Gong, one of Zhang's longtime collaborators, knows precisely what the director wants. With a limited number of lines throughout the film, Gong is fully committed to her character and touches the audience with great facial expressions and subtle changes of emotion.
Maybe now you understand why everyone can relate to the film. Although it reflects on a big era through the story of a small family, the era is only a backdrop. What moves the young audience here is love, and you will leave the cinema with a new understanding of it.
Tell us what you think about Zhang Yimou's new film Coming Home.