Coming Home (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
February 23, 2016 by Dennis Amith
Zhang Yimou’s “Coming Home” is a powerful drama thanks to the magnificent performance of actress Gong Li. A love story showcasing commitment and perseverance, “Coming Home” is a film that I highly recommend!
Image courtesy of © 2014 Le Vision Pictures Co. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Coming Home
YEAR OF FILM: 2014
DURATION: 109 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Mandarin (PRC), Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English – Audio Description Track, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics
RATED: PG-13 (Some Thematic Material)
RELEASE DATE: March 8, 2016
Directed by Zhang Yimou
Based on the Novel by Geling Yan
Screenplay by Jingzhi Zou
Produced by Turi Vasile, Luggi Waldfeitner
Music by Benedetto Ghiglia, Piero Piccioni
Cinematography by Armando Nannuzzi
Edited by Franco Fraticelli
Production Design by Maurizio Chiari
Set Decoration by Bruno Cesari
Costume Design by Maurizio Chiari
Li Gong as Feng Wanyu
Daoming Chen as Lu Yanshi
Huiwen Zhang as Dan Dan, the daughter
Tao Guo as Officer Liu
Ni Yan as Officer Li
Chun Li as Cui Meifang
Jia-yi Zhang as Doctor Dai
Peiqi Liu as Officer Liu
Jiali Ding as Mr. Fang’s Wife
Lu (Chen Daoming) and Feng (Gong Li) are a devoted couple forced to separate when Lu is arrested and sent to a labor camp as a political prisoner during the Cultural Revolution. When Lu is released years later, he returns home to find his beloved wife has amnesia and remembers little of her past. Unable to recognize him, she still patiently awaits her husband’s return. A stranger within his own family, Lu is determined to awaken his wife’s memory through gentle displays of unconditional and eternal love.
From filmmaker Zhang Yimou (“Hero”, “House of Flying Daggers”, “The Curse of the Golden Flower”) comes the 2014 drama “Coming Home”. An adaptation of the novel by Geling Yan and a screenplay by Jingzhi Zou.
Starring Chen Daoming (“Hero”, “Infernal Affairs 3”, “Aftershock”), Gong Li (“2046”, “Hannibal Rising”, “Raise the Red Lantern”, “Miami Vice”) and Huiwen Zhang (“Forever Young”), the film was shot in Tanjin and Beijing and has received positive reviews from film critics worldwide.
And now, “Coming Home” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
“Coming Home” begins with Lu Yanshi (portrayed by Chen Daoming), a professor persecuted and sent to a labor camp during the Cultural Revolution (a sociopolitical movement in the People’s Republic of China between 1966-1976 by Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Communist Party of China, in order to preserve “true” Communist ideology and removing all capitalist and traditional elements from Chinese society).
Lu Yanshi has escaped and is headed home.
We are introduced to a young woman named Dan Dan (portrayed by Huiwen Zhang), a ballerina who is working hard to be the lead dancer in a performance. She and her mother Feng Wanyu (portrayed by Gong Li) are asked if they had any information on the whereabouts of Lu Yanshi and are told if they do, to not confront him but report him to authorities.
But for Feng Wanyu, who hasn’t seen her husband for a decade, she desperately wants to see her husband, but her daughter tells her not to.
Because word has gotten out about Lu Yanshi’s escape, Dan Dan is not given the lead role but meanwhile, she confronts her father who is hiding in their building, planning to see his family.
While authorities are keeping a close eye on the building that Feng Wanyu and Dan Dan are living, she sees that her mom has packed her clothing and is planning to leave. She forbids her mother to do it but her mom tells her that she has spent her life taking care of Dan Dan, but now she must take care of her mother. Dan Dan tries to prevent her mother by blocking the door.
The following morning, Dan Dan wakes up to find out her mother has left.
Feng Wanyu and Lu Yanshi try to find each other, but Dan Dan reports to the authorities of her father’s whereabouts, after she is told that she would be receiving the lead role. As authorities capture Lu Yanshi, they try to stop Feng Wanyu from getting close to him and she is pushed and falls on the pavement and slamming her head. Lu Yanshi is apprehended and Dan Dan is shocked about what has happened and worries for her mother.
Fast forward to the end of the Cultural Revolution, Lu Yanshi is released and comes home to find out that Dan Dan does not live at home and is no longer a dancer and works as a textile worker.
When he goes to visit Feng Wanyu, he finds out that she does not remember him. She suffers from amnesia and something has happened to her and when she sees Lu Yanshi, she does not think he is her husband.
So, now Lu Yanshi must do what he can in hopes to reawaken his wife’s memory but also bring together his broken family if possible.
“Coming Home” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1). While scenes tend to be focused inside the home of Feng Wanyu and the room that Lu Yanshi is staying in, the scenes are well-lit, closeup details are very good and for the most part, make-up design is well-done in showcasing Gong Li as an older woman. But the scenes shot by cinematography Xiaoding Zhao captures emotion and the state of Feng Wanyu’s well-being. Cinematography is well-done, colors are natural and black levels are nice and deep.
I did not notice any artifacts or banding issues while watching the film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
As for the lossless audio, “Coming Home” is presented in Mandarin (PRC), Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English – Audio Description Track and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.
The film is primarily dialogue driven with a few scenes such as crowds or during Dan Dan’s performance utilizing the surround channels for ambiance. But this is a dialogue driven film with beautifully composed music by Qigang Chen.
“Coming Home” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Zhang Yimou.
- Toronto Film Festival Q&A with Zhang Yimou – (18:46) Featuring a post-screening Q&A with director Zhang Yimou.
- Theatrical Trailer – Theatrical trailers for “Coming Home”.
Zhang Yimou has created beautiful masterpiece films in his cinematic oeuvre. While many showcase action, “Coming Home” features on a family broken apart due to the Cultural Revolution in China.
About how a husband and wife remain committed to each other, even though one of them has amnesia. A powerful, yet sad film about love between two people that has lasted for decades, the film relies heavily on the shoulders of actress Gong Li.
Known for her beauty and sensual scenes, in “Coming Home”, Gong Li gives a fantastic performance as Feng Wanyu, a woman who was separated by her husband because of the Cultural Revolution and forbidden to see or speak of him. So, she holds hope that one day she can be reunited with him.
Unfortunately, the day that she is to reunite with him, after her husband had escaped from prison, she hits her head on the pavement and now suffers from amnesia.
At the end of the Cultural Revolution, her husband returns home but he finds out that while she awaits for her husband’s return, despite her husband being back home, she does not recognize him, as they have aged over the years.
She doesn’t retain much memories of the past and present but she retains memories of when her husband will return but also the disappoint she has towards her daughter (who reported her father to the authorities after he had escaped).
With the task of trying to bring his broken family together, Lu Yanshi must do all that is necessary to help bring his wife’s memory but also restore the relationship between mother and daughter.
A film that is beautifully shot and a screenplay by Jingzhi Zou that captures the trials and tribulations of each family member, the film is unique but also a film that you rarely see in Chinese cinema as it is set during the Cultural Revolution.
As Gong Li was fantastic in the film, credit also has to be given to actor Daoming Chen of being a husband that is hurt by his wife’s condition but is committed in hoping to bring her memories back. And young actress Huiwen Zhang does a good job for her acting debut in a major film, playing a daughter that desperately wants her family’s love, but feels guilty for the pain she has caused.
The Blu-ray release features great cinematography and picture quality, while lossless audio is dialogue and music-driven. You get a few special features such as a commentary, Toronto Film Festival Q&A and a theatrical trailer.
Overall, Zhang Yimou’s “Coming Home” is a powerful drama thanks to the magnificent performance of actress Gong Li. A love story showcasing commitment and perseverance, “Coming Home” is a film that I highly recommend!
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