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The Road Home Movie Review

 

  The Road Home

 

5 out of 5 starsI'll Wait For You

Clean is the autumn wind,
Splendid is the autumn moon,
The blown leaves are heaped and scattered,
The ice-cold raven starts from its roost
Dreaming of you-when shall I see you again?
On this night sorrow fills my heart.

-Li Po (701-762)
Chinese Poet, “Verses”

In a mesmerizing story of love and loss based on Bao Shi’s novel: “Remembrance,” you will find two hearts. A teacher wanting to give his knowledge to the next generation and a farm girl wanting to share her very soul with the man she loves. This is about how in the winter of a life, the summer is remembered and celebrated.

From the very start of this movie, it will draw you into the intimacy of the most private thoughts of the characters. There are thoughts about life, death, love, loss and loneliness. The contrast of the black-and-white present with the ecstatic color flashback scenes of the past are so sharp, it is almost emotionally overwhelming. Snow drifts across the frozen earth and there are scenes of the bitter cold.

The story is set around the life of a schoolhouse built when two people fall in love. As they age, the schoolhouse also ages and when businessman Luo Yusheng’s (Sun Honglei) father dies, the schoolhouse is ready to be rebuilt. He leaves the city and returns to the snowy path leading to the mountain village of Sanhetun in Northern China.

Luo Changyu (Zheng Hao) helped to build the schoolhouse and taught there for almost his entire life. After getting caught in a snow storm, his heart condition is revealed and he is unable to continue raising money for this project. He dies never seeing his dream of the new schoolhouse come true.

 

Luo Yusheng finds his mother Zhao Di (Zhao Yuelin plays the older Di) weeping at the school. She finally tells her son of her plans to carry her husband back in a coffin on foot. She doesn’t want to use a car and so he must employ people from the surrounding villages. As her son takes care of the details, she weaves a funeral cloth for the casket. We are reminded later of why this means so much to her as we think of her innocent face peering through the red threads used to create the cloth hung in the schoolhouse.

The story of the romance between 18-year-old Zhao Di (Zhang Ziyi from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon plays the young Di) and Luo Changyu is the focus of the movie. They are perhaps in love from the moment their eyes meet. In a world of arranged marriages, this freedom to love is unique. Di has her heart set on Luo from the minute she sees him. She pursues him like an shy animal hunting in the forest. She views him from afar and slowly works her way into his heart. Her pink coat floating between golden leaves as she runs, her anxious heart captured by her gaze.

Each day as the school is built, she brings a dish for him and hopes that he will taste something she has cooked for him. Then as he teaches, she can’t resist the sound of his voice. She has to be near him.

When he has to leave to be questioned for political reasons, she has just made mushroom dumplings and so wants him to taste them. While the story is simple, the emotions are complex. You know what the characters are thinking even before they have spoken. You feel their hearts, imagine it is your breath seeping into the cold air like steam or your hands making the mushroom dumplings.

Your heart runs with her to find Luo. And then you cry when the bowl breaks because you feel the intense longing Di feels. You live this story with her, you see love through her eyes, you know she would walk barefoot in the snow if she could just find Luo.

As she waits for Luo to return, we know she is completely in love. She tells him she will wait for him and he promises to return on the 27th. When he fails to return, Di feels she has lost everything unless she goes to find the man she loves.

You will want to cry because this movie is so incredibly beautiful. It is beautiful in its simplicity. Director Zhang Yimou has made one of the most beautiful movies you will ever see. The music by Bao San fills any space you would possible have to draw a breath and escape from being absolutely captured by every scene.  

I will gladly read subtitles for a movie this exquisite. This is perhaps the only perfect movie ever made. If you only saw one movie in your life, this should be it. I feel I can hardly describe this movie to you. There are hardly words to tell you how this movie absolutely enchanted me. 100 stars would not be enough.

Like fresh water drawn from the depths of a well, this movie is all consuming in how it refreshes your spirit. It is a drink from the clearest mountain stream. It is pure in its deepest emotions of hope and longing and rich beyond material possessions in the beauty of love.

This movie sets your senses on fire. You hear the crispest of sounds, the “splosh” of water as it is poured back into the well, fresh snow crunching underfoot and the sizzle of food in a wok set over a fire. Your vision is in complete bliss as an aesthetic awareness of nature swirls around you in pictures and sounds in a rural Chinese setting.

Completely Charming in every way.

~The Rebecca Review 

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