TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘Coming Home Again’

TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘Coming Home Again’

There are two certainties regarding the intentions of Coming Home Again, the latest from director Wayne Wang. One on hand, it clearly ascertains to evoke deep emotions. On the other, it is determined to do so in a very durational manner, offering up many long takes with little movement and action.

Your mileage will probably vary based on your ability to reconcile the two. For the most part, I found this story of a young man (Justin Chon as Chang-rae) caring for cancer-stricken mother (Jackie Chung) deeply compelling, and at times, deeply moving. Moments were definitely accompanied by the unexpected filter of human eye mist, but the highs inside of the theatre did not stay with me as well as I thought they would.

Most impressive is Wang’s control throughout this. There’s a very refined sense to his composition of the frame in certain scenes. One in particular that stands out involves Chang-rae and his mother talking to local church representatives; a scene composed in a way that encloses the two of them between the three visitors.

Maybe the best way to describe Coming Home Again is through its source material, as the film is an adaptation of an award-winning essay by Korean American author Chang-rae Lee. In a sense, the film feels very much as if it is what it is, that being an adaptation of an essay. It is powerful, but it may prove to a bit too stuffy for some tastes.

This post was written by
Thomas Wishloff is currently an MA student at York University. He is new to the Toronto Film Scene, but has periodically written and podcasted for several now defunct ventures, and has probably commented on a forum with you at some point. The ex-Edmontonian has been known to enjoy a good board game, and claims to know the secret to the best popcorn in the world.
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