Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles
Takada, a Japanese fisherman has been estranged from his son for many years, but when the son is diagnosed with terminal cancer his daughter-in-law, Rie, summons him to the hospital. Through a series of obstacles and relationships, he is brought unexpectedly closer to both an understanding of himself and of his son.
A very touching and rich film about a Japanese fisherman who goes on a trip to China to film a Chinese opera performance for his dying son in the hopes to reconcile with him as it's a very heartfelt film that earns its tears.
Connecting to a movie is always a happy surprise, but when a movie comes along that is brimming with personal connections it becomes a gift. And like any good gift, I want to internalize it by capturing some of those moments before they fade from my memory. Apologies for a self serving post.
"I decided this suddenly. I don’t know what is out there and I’m not good at dealing with people. However, I feel compelled to go." How many times have I said words like these? Inevitably there follows an argument with myself in which I lose, so I go.
Well Meaning Translator:
I love this character. He doesn't speak a lick of Japanese, but is willing to…
Beautiful scenery of rural china mixed with busy Japan.
Stitched, in my mind, to both Zhang's semi-great Not One Less (Chinese bureaucracy acting as a buffer for and a pathway to a new, bracing reality) and his somewhat less thrilling film called The Road Home (intensely emotional tale that seems to exist on the fringe of reality), Riding Alone For Thousands of Miles sidesteps the easily corrupted Father-Son dynamic - that usually leads to contrived, overtly button-pushing moments - by down playing the actual, central narrative and allowing it to grow on its own, adding task after task to the already superfluous end the calmly indifferent main character pursues. The title - though taken from the opera he's trying to videotape - ought to give you, however, some idea…
A picture says more than a thousand words, and Zhang Yimou uses just photography and expression to tell his story instead of superfluous dialogue. The style is slow and it is beautifully filmed and well-played. The ending is very touching and it is not often slow motion gives me tears in the eyes.
A japanese father travels to China to make a recording of a chinese opera for his son to see. His son is terminally ill, so the question is will he make it back in time. Zhang Yimou has made several films that are among my favorites; Raise the Red Lantern, To Live, Hero, he's having a hard time doing something really wrong. And he doesn't this time either. It's a story that is somewhat lost in translation between Japanese and Chinese, which is of course what the writer / director wanted. There are some really beautiful photography, as could be expected - one can't help being impressed by the village party scene.