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Dec 29, 2010 | Movie Review: Last Train Home (2009)

Movie review of Last Train Home

Director: Lixin Fan
Runtime: 85 minutes

I’ve been a bit late on the movie bandwagon and Last Train Home has been one of those movies I have been meaning to see for a while now. Despite it having been produced in 2009, it came out to general audiences in the United States in September of this year. It’s powerful documentary with a lot of raw emotions, and I hope to do it justice here.

The premise is simple: follow the 130 million migrant workers of China from Guanzhou to the countryside as they make their way home for the Chinese New Year. The movie shadows a family (Suqin Chen, Zhang Changhua, their daughter Qin and son Yang) and their fractured paths as the parents come back to villages they had left early in their lives in search for money. Feeling somewhat abandoned by her parents (who themselves are probably unwilling to share their toils in the factories), Qin rebels against her parents’ desires for her to stay in school.

I think the powerful part of the movie lies in the way the director allows the viewer to almost feel as though he or she is taking part in this journey, a fly on the wall whose presence, despite the camera, is largely ignored. There are no narratives to overshadow the electrifying emotions that unfold on the screen, no judgements, no assurances, no soft fuzzy blanket. I think that’s what is surprisingly refreshing here – the director doesn’t have an agenda or a particular story to tell. In that sense, the ending may feel somewhat incomplete. But a complete ending would make the movie feel less real, less raw.

Adding a layer to this is the way in which the viewer is encouraged to explore conflicting feelings in understanding the dynamics of a family torn apart by the needs to support family, the parent’s somewhat overbearing desires for wellbeing for the child, and the child’s unwillingness to participate. No one is necessarily right or wrong, here, I believe. In the end, The Last Train Home likely translates well into a window into many families across the world and the complex package of emotions that I think many people will be able to relate to.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 at 1:39 am, EST under the category of Movie Reviews. Both comments and pings are currently closed.