RoundTable’s review published on Letterboxd:
The combination of Zhang Yimou and Gong Li has proven to be quite promising in the past, with movies like “Raise the red lantern” or “They live”. With Zhangs ability to pick such interesting source material and his incredible and unique directing ability and Gong Li’s ability to make such breath taking and believable performances its really no wonder.
Now, with their latest release “Going home” it seems to me they hit their old mark.
As described in the synopsis, the movie is a drama about a wife not remembering her husband as he comes home after two centuries of separation, since he was a political prisoner during the Cultural Revolution.
The pacing of the movie was very well and the cinematography was overall quite nice, not outstanding like in Zhangs other movies, such as “Hero” or “Raise the red lantern”, but it fits the movie.
The acting of this movie was excellent, especially from Gong Li. It’s nice to see her in a role that is so unique compared to everything she did before (although I have to say I haven’t got the time yet to see all her works). She really likes to choose her roles to challenge herself and experience new things and that’s one thing I really like about her. But also Chen Dao-Ming made a great performance and I really have to check out more movies with him. Also worth mentioning is Zhang Huiwen, she made a very nice performance as well and it was her debut role I might add.
There are only two things in the movie I disliked. For one, I think many of the plot devices of the movie were unnecessarily shuffled into the face of the audience. I always appreciate it more when directors make certain details about character and their motivations not that obvious, only for people who pay attention. There are stories that don’t really need it and it never bothered me in Zhangs works before, but I really noticed it in “Going home”, because it could have given the movie another layer to it.
Another thing that I disliked about the movie was its soundtrack. A really well composed soundtrack would have helped the emotional scenes be even better. Now they had a nice little piano piece rather at the end, but that alone wasn’t enough. It was unusual for Zhang since his movies had such fitting scores before, making emotional scenes so complete.
But I have to add that I really like how Zhangs can make scenes touching without using any soundtrack at all.
So overall I can only recommend for you to check out Zhangs “Going home”, it’s a lovely and touching story, with very strong performances. I think it is very relatable even if you have never experienced something like that in your own life.