Coming Home Again, Wayne Wang’s latest film, world premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival this weekend. The film is a production of the Center for Asian American Media.
The narrative feature film focuses on a Korean American man (played by Justin Chon) who cares for his ailing mother (Jackie Chung) while trying to master her traditional cooking, based on Chang-rae Lee’s New Yorker short story. He cooks a traditional Korean New Year’s Eve dinner for his mother that is what his mother always cooked for the family. It takes a haunting look at the sacrifices an immigrant mother and son have taken for each other.
After the film, Director Wayne Wang and actors Justin Chon and Jackie Chung stayed for a Q&A (see full Q&A below), moderated by Toronto’s Reel Asian International Film Festival Executive Director Deanna Wong.
“When I was doing all the studio films in Hollywood, a lot of times, it would preview really well, it would score really high but the studio would say, take out every moment that doesn’t do anything, or take out every frame that is not necessary…and then I started seeing my doctor because I was having a tough time breathing. My doctor just says, you have to relax, and really learn to breathe again. And that’s when I realized that a lot of these films, they push you so much and they push you to think a certain way. And now that I’m kind of older, and sort of retired, I can afford to do a film where I can take my fucking time! I want you to breathe, I want the film to breathe, and I want you to think about your own life, and what happens with your own life rather than me manipulating you how to think.”
Variety film critic Tomris Laffly gave it a glowing review:
Wang is no stranger to exploring the immigrant experience in America — in films such as “Chan Is Missing,” “The Princess of Nebraska” and “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers,” he portrayed the different shades of various Chinese Americans with nuance and empathy. He brings the same watchful compassion to the Korean American family at the heart of “Coming Home Again,” grappling with anticipatory grief, with the impending departure of one of their own.
— Jean Yoon (윤 진 희 or 尹真姬) (@jean_yoon) September 8, 2019
Had to apologize to others in the theater after carrying my buckets of tears from COMING HOME AGAIN. More coming soon. #TIFF19
— Robert Daniels @ TIFF (@812filmreviews) September 8, 2019
Experiencing whiplash after going from the antic KNIVES OUT to the muted COMING HOME AGAIN, Wayne Wang’s meditation on mortality (his and your mom’s). Exquisitely still surfaces covering profound emotional pain; one or two more dots could have stood connecting. #tiff2019
— Ty Burr (@tyburr) September 8, 2019
Our beautiful stars Jackie Chung, Justin Chon & director Wayne Wang (right) before the world premiere of COMING HOME AGAIN last night.
— Jean Noh (@Nonohnoh) September 8, 2019
Wayne Wang’s COMING HOME AGAIN is a slow, bracing look at a Korean American’s journey through guilt and uncertainty as he cares for his sick mother while trying to master her traditional cooking.
— Jason Carlos (@jaarlos) September 8, 2019
Ended the day in a completely different mood. Wayne Wang's Coming Home Again was a soulful mediation on grief whilst also working through the misunderstandings between two generations of immigrants. It's a very very slow burn, but oh so lyrical. #TIFF19 pic.twitter.com/tssUZUwYyb
— Naz Onuzo (@IamSnazz) September 9, 2019
Review of Wayne Wang's Coming Home Again by @normwilner. https://t.co/Gy7XkUUsDh This is my favourite thus far of films watched at #TIFF19. My bias is that Wang could direct a commercial and I'd still watch it with purpose and interest. He's a legend.
— J. Lam (@zengarden17) September 9, 2019