Coming Home was directed by Zhang Yimou (張藝謀), but for someone of such global fame, it's hard to believe he did it. The first 30 minutes shows the incredible pain Mao Zedong (毛澤東) caused on the mainland during the Cultural Revolution, and then Zhang brings in from nowhere a clichéd storyline about a character with amnesia.
Lu Yanshi (Chen Daoming) was taken away from his wife, Feng Wanyu (Gong Li) and young daughter, Dandan, and becomes a political prisoner. He escapes from a labour camp and tries to rejoin his family, only to be betrayed by Dandan. She has become a ballet dancer and reports her father for the chance to play a leading role in a ballet.
It's so disheartening to watch a daughter selling out her father in the name of Communist Party "morality". Did people lose their souls as they lost their freedom?
It would have been better if the movie had focused on how people survived the darkest days in China's modern history, but the history lesson on the Cultural Revolution ended there.
Three years later, Lu is released and goes home, only to find his wife has amnesia.
Why didn't Zhang make the Cultural Revolution his canvas? As disappointing as it is, you can't really blame the director. After all, it's a mainland production that puts the party above everything.