The orderly lives of aspiring ballet dancer Dandan (Zhang Huiwen) and her schoolteacher mother Feng Wanyu (Gong Li) are upended when authorities inform them that Feng’s husband, Dandan’s father, Lu Yanshi (Chen Daoming) has escaped the government re-education camp.
Fearful yet hopeful that Lu Yanshi will make contact, Feng nervously monitors each aspect of her daily life. Meanwhile Dandan is shattered when she fails to garner the lead role in a ballet and turns to the authorities, exchanging family secrets to secure her ambitions. When the revolution ends, Lu Yanshi returns he finds two women shattered by bitter resentment. His initial attempts to restart his life are met with an emotional amnesia from Feng who has borne such pain in the intervening years that her mind is beyond repair.
Born in 1951, Zhang Yimou experienced the revolution first hand. Like many children of educated parents, he was sent to the country to work in agricultural and industrial jobs; his life altered in the political upheaval. For his latest film - which has drawn enormous box office success in mainland China - Yimou examines this monumental aspect of national culture through the lives of everyday citizens. “It doesn’t matter if the theme is big or small it has to be expressed through a family or an individual. This is the direction of my storytelling.”
In Coming Home Yimou elicits another fine performance from Gong Li whose portrayal of a woman who has lost everything is incredibly moving. “A lot of this film is very much about Gong Li and Yimou,” said Producer Zhang Zhao. “Coming back together as actress and film director, they are such a legendary couple of the Chinese screen. It’s a great thing.”
“Filmmaking doesn’t get more traditional or timeless than Chinese master Zhang Yimou’s Coming Home.” - Variety
Zhang Yimou and his long-time muse Gong Li reunite for a stirring drama about a family torn apart by the Cultural Revolution.
The film is adapted for the screen by Zou Jingzhi (The Grandmaster, Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles) from the novel The Criminal Lu Yansh by Yan Geling. Yimou previously worked with Geling’s material for his award-winning 2011 film, The Flowers of War.