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86

Universal acclaim - based on 18 Critics What's this?

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8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 23 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Every spring, China’s cities are plunged into chaos as 130 million migrant workers journey to their home villages for the New Year’s holiday. This mass exodus is the world’s largest human migration—an epic spectacle that reveals a country tragically caught between its rural past andEvery spring, China’s cities are plunged into chaos as 130 million migrant workers journey to their home villages for the New Year’s holiday. This mass exodus is the world’s largest human migration—an epic spectacle that reveals a country tragically caught between its rural past and industrial future. Working over several years in classic verité style Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Lixin Fan (with the producers of the award-winning hit documentary Up the Yangtze) travels with one couple who have embarked on this annual trek for
    almost two decades. Like so many of China’s rural poor, Zhang Changhua and Chen Suqin left behind their two infant children for grueling factory jobs. Their daughter Qin—now a restless and rebellious teenager—both bitterly resents their absence and longs for her own freedom away from school, much to the utter devastation of her parents. Emotionally engaging and starkly beautiful,
    Last Train Home’s intimate observation of one fractured family sheds light on the human cost of China’s ascendance as an economic superpower. (Zeitgeist Films)
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 18
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 18
  3. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. 100
    Mr. Fan's documentary is informed by a melancholy humanism, and finds unexpected beauty in almost unbearably harsh circumstances. It tells the story of a family caught, and possibly crushed, between the past and the future - a story that, on its own, is moving, even heartbreaking. Multiplied by 130 million, it becomes a terrifying and sobering panorama of the present.
  2. 100
    The attention to visuals is above and beyond what most vérité is capable of; doing double duty as the film's cinematographer, Fan demonstrates a pitch-perfect photojournalistic eye.
  3. 100
    It's one of those extraordinary films, like "Hoop Dreams," that tells a story the makers could not possibly have anticipated in advance. It works like stunning, grieving fiction.
  4. 83
    Sometimes the story is so much like a fiction feature-complete with explosive family arguments and pointed cross-cutting between the free-spirited Qin and her beaten-down folks-that it feels exploitative, as though Lixin were turning real people into characters.
  5. Disappointment, inhuman work schedules, sluggish exports, and the crush of a two-day rail journey ratchet up the familial tensions, which finally explode over a holiday dinner.
  6. Fan's fly-on-the-wall perspective enables the viewer to empathize with all the players in the family drama, unlikely to have a happy ending.
  7. It's depressing enough to watch this family's struggles with life. But their pain really hits home when you think that the pants you might be wearing could have contributed to it.

See all 18 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Jan 25, 2011
    10
    Lixin Fan's film retains an extraordinary relationship with it's direct subjects; a struggling family, and the tensions of some 130 millionLixin Fan's film retains an extraordinary relationship with it's direct subjects; a struggling family, and the tensions of some 130 million other peasants toiling in similar fashion, trying to make a living in the enormous industrial complex that is modern China. Juxtaposing the intimate, enchanting portrait of the Zhang family with the action footage of them lost in the utterly insane annual event that constitutes 'goin home for the holidays in China was a masterstroke. This, thankfully, is one of those documentary films that never feels like it intrudes, so much so that a sense of voyeurism crept up on me. I found the cinematography so fluid and captivating that the solitary occasion wherein the tension of a cameras glaring presence is brought to bare became an unforgettable scene of wrought emotion. I actually had to press pause. This film is a real achievement in Cinéma vérité, from a special artist, and an important one too. Expand
  2. Jan 17, 2011
    9
    This film is a wonderfully paced and visually stunning portrait of a cultural phenomenon - economic migration within China. The struggle ofThis film is a wonderfully paced and visually stunning portrait of a cultural phenomenon - economic migration within China. The struggle of one family is shown rather than explained, with snippets of conversation as a chorus to the imagery. A sensory treat. Expand

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