The Road Home

1999. | Drama | 89 minutes | Mandarin with English subtitles

In present day China, Luo Yusheng  returns to his hometown village from the city upon hearing his father’s death. His mother, Zhao Di, insists on following an ancient tradition of having the coffin carried back by foot by the townspeople. Doing this her husband will remember his way back home. Yusheng tries to convince his mother that this is not feasible: there are just not enough strong young men left in the village.  Yusheng then recounts the past life of his parents. His father, Luo Changyu, came to the village to be the schoolteacher. Lovely Zhao Di lives with her mother doing chores around the house and falls deeply for Changyu. They exchange friendly looks and Zhao Di cooks a special meal when  Changyu makes his customary visit. Zhao Di is heartbroken when  Changyu tells her he must leave the village as he’s being interrogated for conducting an Anti-Rightist Campaign.  Changyu does return and they get married.  Yusheng is now determined to have townspeople from the surrounding villages carry his father’s coffin. He gives the mayor money to pay the outsiders. The time of the procession, the mayor returns the money to Yusheng. The townspeople  consider it an honor to carry the coffin of his father,  a beloved teacher. Before  Yusheng returns to the city, he enters the schoolhouse and gives a lesson to the children using his father’s textbook.   
Sun Honglei (Luo Yusheng) / Zhang Ziyi (Zhao Di) / Zheng Hao (Luo Cangyu)
Why Stream This Film?
Beautiful cinematography, exquisite acting, Zhang Yimou at his compassionate best.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 89%
  • Metacritic Score: 71
  • Berlin International Film Festival: Winner,Silver Bear
  • Sundance Film Festival: Winner, Audience World Cinema Award

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I loved the simple clarity of the scenes between Sun and Zhao as a baffled son and his aging mother. In the film’s definitive sequence – a funeral procession through the snow – he reaches a visual and emotional apotheosis that ranks with the best of his work.
Edward Guthmann

San Francisco Chronicle

It is the resourceful actress Zhang Ziyi who makes the strongest impression, radiating her character’s fierceness and purity of her love in every minute of her screen time.
Merrit Ingman

Austin Chronicle

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