"Coming Home" celebrates two relationships: the one depicted in the movie, of a man reuniting with his wife after two decades in prison during China's Cultural Revolution, and the other of director Zhang Yimou partnering once again with his iconic leading lady Gong Li. Together, the pair made their international debuts with "Red Sorghum" in 1987, when most of China's films were unseen by the rest of the world and Chinese filmmakers had to toe the party line or face harsh censorship.

Zhang's films were banned in China, even as he and Gong shot to stardom during the 1990s, subsequently opening the Chinese movie scene as wide as it would go and paving the way for other auteurs and performers to follow suit. After seven films together — "Curse of the Golden Flower" (2006) is the duo's last joint effort — Zhang and Gong have found each other again. In other words, it's time to prepare those handkerchiefs for some serious weeping.

Under Zhang's direction, you get to reconfirm all the factors that make Gong one of the most superb Asian actresses of our time. Other filmmakers have cast her, including Michael Mann in "Miami Vice" (2006), but "Coming Home" shows Gong in her true milieu: a woman often victimized by the winds of Chinese politics, but who manages to retain an inner core of resilience and strength.