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
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.