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Coming Home 

Wednesday, Sep 16 2015

Though it's based on a novel, the small cast and limited locations of Zhang Yimou'sComing Homemake it feel more like a stage play that's been opened up. It's a swell cast, though, including Gong Li, Yimou's collaborator on his high-watermarksRaise the Red LanternandTo Live. InComing Home, Li is Yu, mother of ideologically pure ballet dancer Dandan (Zhang Huiwen) and wife of Lu (Chen Daoming), who's arrested and sent to a labor camp during the Cultural Revolution. After a failed escape attempt some years later, Lu is released at the end of the Revolution, only to find that the troubled Yu doesn't recognize him, and his attempts to jog her memory fail. In spite of some early set pieces, including a thrilling chase through the crowded train depot that serves as one of the film's recurring locations,Coming Homeis essentially a chamber drama. It gets a tad repetitive in its latter half, and without too much rejiggering (and in a different political situation other than 1970s Communist China) could have worked as a comedy. But that wouldn't have played well with its third act revelations, and for all its big emotions, the low-keyComing Homeis a less a melodrama than a mellow drama.


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Sherilyn Connelly


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