Last Train Home: movie review

( Unrated ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

A marvelous documentary, 'Last Train Home' tells the story of a Chinese couple's journey home to their village each year to see their children.

Zeitgeist Films
Zhang Changhua returns to his village by train from the city of Guangzhou, in 'Last Train Home,' a film by Lixin Fan.

Every year during the lunar New Year, according to the marvelous documentary "Last Train Home," 130 million Chinese workers return to their villages from the industrial cities where, in the bustling new economy, they serve as factory workers. One such couple, Chen Suqin and her husband, Zhang Changhua, originally from the rural Sichuan Province, have been working in the factories of Guangzhou for 15 years.

Directed by the Chinese-Canadian Lixin Fan, "Last Train Home" follows this couple over a period of three years as they reconnect each year with their children, Zhang Qin, a high school girl, and her younger brother – both of whom have been cared for practically since birth by their grandmother.

Qin's resistance to her parents' ministrations have the typical contours of adolescent rebellion, but her dilemma – the push-pull between the old China represented by her parents and the new China of her own generation – is epically modern. Fan's camera moves sinuously through these people's lives and gives a human face to a national panorama. Grade: A (Unrated.)

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