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Movie Reviews

The Road Home  

Director: Zhang Yimou

Due to "political" reasons, a jury for the 1999 Cannes Film Festival
rejected "The Road Home" for submission. Because of this, Yimou refused to
edit the film, and just pulled it from the festival altogether. It is quite
disappointing to see political agendas hindering films like this from
getting recognized, for I did not consider the film a political movie at all
as "The Road Home" has a touchingly simple and powerful love story at its
very heart.

Luo (Zheng Hao) is a city man traveling back to the countryside where he
grew up. His father, the village teacher, has just recently passed on, and
his mother is grief-stricken over the loss of her beloved. While planning
the funeral arrangements, Luo comes across an old photograph of his parents.
The film then flashbacks to the time when Luo's young father (Sun Honglei)
and mother (Zhang Ziyi) first met and how they fell in love.

Based on Bao Shi's novel "Rememberance", the soul of "The Road Home" is
centered on the remembering the past. Like Yimou's other and better films,
"Raise the Red Lantern" and "Ju Dou", Yimou captures the essence of much
more colorful years gone by. Instead of attacking issues such as sexism and
societal injustices, the film focuses more on innocence and yearns for a
simpler time. Even the cinematography blatantly shows this by having the
present time scenes in gradients of gray and white, while the past appears
in shades of bright yellows, oranges and browns.

I did not see anything quite radical or politically objectionable in "The
Road Home", in fact I thought that the underlying message of a return to
simplicity and tradition was quite refreshing, coming from Yimou.

The film has a slow pace, and I wouldn't have it any other way. "The Road
Home" has a plot that does not need to be rushed at all. The story is well
presented and developed. My only qualm with the film is that towards the
end, it gets somewhat melodramatic. So much emotion has been extracted from
the viewer already during the course of the movie, that the overly
sentimental closing scene was quite unnecessary.

This is Zhang Ziyi's film debut, and it is from this film that Ang Lee
recruited her for the role of Jen, the feisty young warrior in "Crouching
Tiger, Hidden Dragon". Yimou has casted the ever so beautiful Gong Li in
his earlier films, but I think he has found his new leading lady. Like Gong
Li, Zhang Ziyi has the screen presence and conveys emotions truthfully which
indicate that she will have a fruitful movie career. With "Crouching Tiger,
Hidden Dragon" under her belt, this seems to be a sure thing.

"The Road Home" is not Yimou's best film, but one cannot deny its endearing
and heartfelt qualities. So take the journey and see what you get out of


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