G-rated movies aren't as surprising to come across any more, at least not since David Lynch and David Mamet shocked everyone by going tame with "The Straight Story" and "The Winslow Boy," respectively. (Both, however, seem to be back to the "norm" with their upcoming "Mulholland Drive" and "The Heist.")But for his second G in a row, Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou directs "The Road Home," a touching and feel-good story about a grown boy (Sun Honglei) returning home for his father's funeral, and reminiscing over the popular story of how his parents met. Yimou puts a twist on the coloring of the film; usually color is reserved for the present, while black-and-white is used for flashbacks, but he flips it the other way around here. The result is a pretty one to look at. The sun-drenched and snow-soaked colors are in their natural form, and it's nice to see them that way after so many tricks with cinematography lately. ("Himalaya" also had beautifully natural photography.) Yimou makes the bland very tactile and comfortable, and the plainness is the film's best friend. The personal touches and cultural knick-knacked facts — the old loom being fixed up, the broken pottery being repaired, the cooking of meals, the decoration of the classroom, the hanging of the red banner, etc. — all continue to make this breath of air fresher. If that isn't reason enough to see this, the other side to "The Road Home" is its alternative functioning as an ooglefest for Zhang Ziyi of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” as the young version of the mother. The camera follows her every move and illuminates her with an unprudential favoritism and an unabashed energy. "The Road Home" is actually pre-"Tigre et dragon" as it's known in France — it beats it by a year, but in turn, the latter film beat this one to a release by the separation of a year. Ziyi definitely combusts the flicker she causes on-screen into a full-on bon fire, and her idiosyncrasies in the role (i.e.: her goofy way of speed-walking/hobbling) keep her transfixing. The narration and factual dropping of information as but only an ingredient into the overall brew add to the authenticity. Despite all the snow near the end, you can't help but feel all warm.
With Zhao Yuelin, Zheng Hao, Li Bin, Chang Guifa and Sung Wencheng. Adapted from his novel "Remembrance" by Bao Shi.