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ATHE ROAD HOME
Sony Pictures Classic Release
Official Site
Director: Zhang Yimou
Producer: Zhao Yu
Written by: Bao Shi
Cast: Zhang Ziyi, Sun Honglei, Zheng Hao

Rating: out of 5


I fell in love with Gong Li several years ago, and Iím a sucker for just about anything she or director Zhang Yimou does, including their collaborative work in RED SORGHUM, JU DOU and RAISE THE RED LANTERN.

Even without Gong Li, Yimou has made some great films, including his most recent picture, 1999ís NOT ONE LESS, his film based on the true story of a young school teacher in a poor village in China. When one of her pupils goes to the big city seeking employment to support his family, she travels after him and attempts to bring him back.

Once again, Yimou returns to themes of rural China and the one-room school house in his latest film, THE ROAD HOME. He has also cast as the leading lady the familiar face of Zhang Ziyi, the trouble-making warrior-bride in CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON.

City businessman Luo Yusheng (Sun Honglei), who has not been home for many years, receives word that his father has died. He returns to his rural, snowy Chinese village to help his mother prepare for the funeral. Upon his arrival, he learns his father died in the neighboring village, and his grief-stricken mother insists that traditional burial customs should be followed. This entails carrying the coffin back on foot for burial in the local village, but it will take several men, and they must travel through several miles of deep snow. The mayor of the village tells Yusheng this will be nearly impossible, as the village has few young men who are able to carry the coffin. He suggests a car or tractor be used instead, but Yushengís mother refuses to budge.

Yusheng then reflects back on the story of his mother and fatherís courtship some forty-odd years ago. His mother Zhao Di (Ziyi) was an 18-year-old girl then, smitten with the recently hired schoolteacher. He recounts the details of their romance, filmed with lush images of their Chinese village as a backdrop.

After reflecting on his parentsí romance, Yusheng realizes he must follow his motherís wishes. He proceeds to arrange for the coffin to be carried on foot over the hazardous windswept plains. The ending of THE ROAD HOME doesnít contain any dramatic bumps or twists, but to describe the last 10 minutes of the film would cheat the viewer out of the touching emotions of the funeral procession. Missing from this film is the tits-and-ass of TOMB RAIDER or the dizzying action sequences of SWORDFISH. THE ROAD HOME is a tale of love, tradition, and loyalty. Itís not edge-of-your-seat cinema, itís a story that is simply told and deeply satisfying.

óNancy Semin

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



none now
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