Checked out Zhang Yimou's The Road Home
on DVD last night, and despite occasionally losing my attention here and there, I was snapped right back to into rapt attention about 2/3 of the way into the movie. I guess this is the type of movie the phrase "deceptively simple" is meant to apply. About an hour into this 90 minute movie, we're suddenly made aware that Di (played with a simplicity by Zhang Ziyi that does justice to the character) represents a rebel with a cause, only she doesn't know she's a rebel and she probably couldn't articulate her cause if asked to. The cause is not only of love, but of an abandonment of traditions of pre-arranged marriage, pre-ordained fealty, devotion. She has got to be one of least presumptuous rebels to grace the screen; her obliviousness to the change to which she is a metaphoric harbinger purifies her pursuit, and damn if Zhang Yimou doesn't capture her purity (there are many shots of Di running, as if she couldn't not
let her emotions manifest itself physically in a time when this is forbidden). We are constantly reminded that the story takes place in the era of Chairman Mao, and I couldn't help but link Di's quiet quest for freedom of expression and love to those rebels here in the U.S. around the same time fighting vocally and physically for the same causes. In its generally unadorned way (I could have done without the B&W framing device and a couple of too-deliberate metaphors), Zhang's movie is about the times, they are a-changing. The political overtones are deliberately sublimated, but the generosity of feeling that surfaces as a result of the pureness and victoriousness of Di's quest is this movie's finest achievement. Both Zhangs have earned our collective heartbreaks.
The second movie I saw last night was Crazy/Beautiful
. Don't have much to say about it, except that I'm ready to give Kirsten Dunst the power of attorney. As a very young actress, she's right up there with Reese Witherspoon in terms of fearlessly and truthfully exploring ranges of emotion that one hopes never has to be experienced by anyone in real life.