Few faces have the power to carry an entire movie. I am not talking about the faces with star values. I just intend to say that some faces deserve to have long, lingering close-ups because so much can be seen, heard and felt just by watching simple movements of the eyes and lips. A face like that belongs to Zhang Ziyi, the Chinese actress best known as the young warrior of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." "The Road Home" was her first film, where she smiles a lot, and embraces love.
Renowned Chinese director Zhang Yimou's, The Road Home, is a poignant, sensitive, and emotionally-satisfying love story. There are so many layers of truth, emotion and devotion in Zhang's eyes throughout this movie that she single-handedly makes it deeply romantic -- even though there's not a single kiss, not even an embrace, in the entire picture.
PlotThe movie is set in two different eras. The first fifteen and final fifteen minutes, which serves as the framing story is presented in stark black-and-white and takes place in a modern-day village in north China. The majority of the film occurs in the same village forty years ago, and is photographed in color.
Luo Yusheng (Sun Honglei) is a successful businessman from the city, who drives to Sanhetun, the town where he was born. The reason for his return is a sad one, to bury his father, a long time teacher who died suddenly. Yusheng's tough elderly mother Zhao Di (Zhao Yuelin) declares that her husband will be brought home properly from the place he died. She insists, no cars, no tractors. He has to be carried by a group of men, "so he won't forget his way home."
The flashback details the courtship of 18-year old Di (Zhang Ziyi) and 20-year old Luo Changyu (Zheng Hao), who broke with tradition and married for love rather than based on an arrangement. For Luo, his mother's fixation on an old custom, one that hasn't been followed since the Cultural Revolution, is pure superstition, but he gradually, learns the value of tradition and of placing family honor above everything.
AnalysisZhang Ziyi embodies and sustains both her character's absolute certainty about love and her childlike innocence. She just becomes that girl, soul and body. Glances and prolonged gazes play a big part in The Road Home's love story, and Zhang has no trouble captivating the camera. Zheng Hao is effortlessly fascinating, gentlemanly and sincere as the teacher.
When compared to some of the great works of Yimou's, like Raise The Red Lantern, To Live, 'The Road Home' must be considered a lesser effort. However, he and screenwriter Bao Shi has taken a small tale – we're talking about a burial and an old story, not much more – and made it transcendental. Yimou often employs a lingering camera and silence to make his points about love, family, culture, and change. Cinematographer Huo Yang's sun-drenched and snow-soaked colors are in their natural, lifelike form.
There are some unique, genuine moments in 'Road Home,' including Di waiting patiently by the road for the first sight of her husband and, at the end, mother and son sobbing quietly. It is these nonverbal realities, and rich silences makes it a unforgettable experience. By the time the movie is over, we can see why the old woman feels as she does.
"The Road Home" is a work of emotional purity and depicts the fable of true love with the beauty of the winter snowstorms and golden autumns that are almost as beautiful as Zhang Ziyi herself. Movie-lovers, who like a simple, well-developed romance, will appreciate this movie.
The Road Home - IMDb