Revisiting the heyday of department stores and five-and-dimes

Brian De Palma

'Coming Home' review: A devastating reunion

'Coming Home' review: A devastating reunion

Chinese star Gong Li's exquisitely doleful face is one of cinema's treasures, and it's the only special effect that director Zhang Yimou needs to make his latest, "Coming Home," feel like a return to social-realist intimacy after a stretch in the world of razzle-dazzle epic melodrama ("Hero," "The Flowers of War").

The actress and director, who made each other's international reputations in the late '80s and early '90s with art-house hits like "Ju Dou" and "Raise the Red Lantern," prove a symbiotic team once more in this adaptation of a novel by Yan Geling.

It's the early '70s, and Gong plays Feng, a middle school teacher...