A Thousand Years Of Good Prayers

"Excellent"

A Thousand Years Of Good Prayers Review


Director Wayne Wang has spent much of the past decade wandering in the wilderness of inconsequential fem-coms such as Maid in Manhattan and Last Holiday. With A Thousand Years of Good Prayers he returns to his indie origins. This is the Wayne Wang we admire: helming a small-scale story that is intimate in its scope but universal in its themes.

In a generic condo block outside of Spokane, Washington, elderly Chinese man Mr. Shi (Henry O) is reuniting with his adult and fully Americanized daughter Yilan (Fiehong Yu) for their first visit together in a long time. Although Mr. Shi is a stranger in a strange land, he is eager to improve his English and learn about American culture. Yilan, however, is having none of it. Though she goes through the motions of being happy to see her father, she is clearly distressed by his arrival, leaving him alone most of the time and dismissing his attempts at conversation. Something's not quite right between these two. As some critics have pointed out, there are echoes here of Ozu's gut-wrenching Japanese masterpiece Tokyo Story, in which elderly parents from the sticks come to the city to visit their grown children only to be patronized, ignored, and ultimately disposed of.

To ease his boredom, Mr. Shi takes walks in the park, where he meets an aging Iranian immigrant he calls Madam (Vida Ghahremani). With only a few words of English in common, the two struggle valiantly to communicate, and very slowly we begin to get a few details. Husband? No. Son? Yes. Baby. Grandma. I love America. Son have big house, big car. It's that kind of interaction.

In fact, Mr. Shi has a lot more fun talking to Madam with a few words of English than he does talking to his difficult daughter in Chinese. Clearly there are deep-seated issues that go way back and that Yilan is not at all that eager to dredge up. While her father seems to be in an apologetic mood, he also doesn't hold back when criticizing Yilan for her failed marriage and urging her to find another man before it's too late. Chinese, American, or whatever, no daughter wants to have that conversation with her dad.

Wang succeeds in building some suspense. Will these two find any mutual forgiveness before Yilan shoves her dad on a train and sends him out to tour America? What do parents owe their children, and what do children owe their parents? Well-written, beautifully shot, and meticulously acted (Henry O is utterly authentic from his badly buckled belt to his stooped posture), this is the kind of indie we expect from a director of Wang's caliber.

Another year won't kill 'em.



A Thousand Years Of Good Prayers

Facts and Figures

Run time: 83 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 10th April 2008

Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures

Production compaines: North by Northwest Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Fresh: 30 Rotten: 8

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , Yukie Kito

Starring: as Mr. Shi, Feihong Yu as Yilan, Vida Ghahremani as Madame, as Boris, as Airport Greeter

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.