Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Road Where We Expected It Is The Road Home

The Good: Beautifully shot, Well acted, good characters
The Bad: Predictable, Somewhat bland overall
The Basics: The Road Home is a cultural experience that is easy to view but ultimately unenlightening and does not leave a terribly great impression either way.

First off, my rating is based on the fact that I'm viewing this as a cultural experience. If rated as an American film, this probably would have been a 3/10. Being that it is a Chinese film, I feel judging it by the exact same standards (especially when the film is focused on many cultural aspects and rituals) would be roughly equivalent to trying to place a rating on a peoples and that's just ridiculous and stupid.

The Road Home focuses primarily on a young Chinese woman, Zhao Di, and a young Chinese man, Luo, who moves into the small village in China. The name of the film is a double entendre: there is a literal road to home and there is the journey made to an emotional place. The film has opened after Luo has died and Zhao wants the body carried home in a time-honored tradition. She then recalls the story of how they met and fell in love, then leaps back to the current problem of carrying the body home.

When I saw the film, a friend I was with afterward said, "If this were an American film, it would have been ten minutes." He was right; there's not much in this film to sustain it. Zhao spends a lot of time waiting. Actually, she spends an excruciating amount of time simply standing and waiting, looking at the horizon for Luo to return. In this film, much time is spent showing her waiting.

On the plus side, the cinematography is impressive. China is a beautiful location to shoot in. And if it wasn't truly shot on location, they picked beautiful places to shoot or they did amazing work on the sets.

The acting is competent. Ziyi Zhang plays Zhao as playful and young and she has great body language to portray a young woman in love. Yulian Zhao plays Zhao Di as an aged woman and she does a good job convincing the audience that she is the same woman Ziyi plays.

The problem is, there are no surprises. Going into the film, we know how the love story resolves itself. We begin with the son returning home after his father's death. The character says what they want, they do it. It's done.

One of my writing teachers in college always used to say "If a conflict is easily overcome, it wasn't much of a conflict to begin with." Here, Targan is right. Every problem posed in The Road Home is easily resolved. There's a dramatic oversimplification of everything in the village in the movie.

I wanted very much to like The Road Home and I did. It's an interesting escape from the United States, but it's not much more than that. The film is easy to watch, but at times too simple and disappointing for a lack of real complexity in either character or plot issues.

For other foreign films, please visit my reviews of:
Slumdog Millionaire
Kama Sutra: A Tale Of Love
Strawberry And Chocolate


For other movie reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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