Following on the heels of director Zhang Yimou's Not One Less (1999), which won the top prize at the 1999 Venice Film Festival, comes this sensitively-wrought portrait of a young woman's unshakable love. The film opens in the present, shot in gritty black and white, as businessman Luo Yusheng (Sun Honglei) returns to his hometown in the rural Hebei province to attend the funeral of his father. When Luo suggests that the coffin should be brought home from the hospital on a tractor, his aging mother Zhao Di (Zhao Yuelin) rebuffs him, insisting that they conform to custom and have it carried home by local men. Later, as Luo recalls his parent's courtship, the film switches to color and travels back in time about 40 years. A young, beautiful Zhao Di (Zhang Ziyi) find herself falling for the village's handsome new teacher Luo Changyu (Zheng Hao). As the males in the village join together to build a school for the burg, Zhao Di helps the other women prepare food, waiting patiently to meet the strapping educator. Just as their romance begins, Luo is suddenly ordered to leave by the Communist authorities. As Luo packs up and leaves the village, Zhao Di races hither and thither carrying his favorite steamed dumplings, hoping to catch him before he departs. Though the odds of reunion seem slim, Zhao Di steadfastly holds vigil for her lover until miraculously, Luo returns under the cover of the night only to be once again ordered to the city where he has been commanded to stay. The pair are forced to wait another two years until they can be together. This film won the prestigious Silver Bear at the 2000 Berlin Film Festival and the World Cinema Audience Award at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival; the victories were all the more sweet for the director, as The Road Home was rejected outright from the 1999 Cannes Film Festival, prompting Zhang to angrily withdraw his Not One Less from competition.
by Jonathan Crow synopsis
custom [habit or practice]