Last Train Home

Rated 4.0

Lixin Fan’s elegant, heart-rending vérité documentary calculates the huge cost of China’s so-called economic miracle. That means joining “the world’s largest human migration,” an arduous annual thousand-mile Chinese New Year trek made by tens of millions of city workers who really can’t afford it, but can’t see their rural families otherwise. Fan focuses on one married couple, first toiling in Guangzhou sewing factories to give their children the proverbial better life, then returning home to discover those parental priorities, and long absences, very deeply resented. The real miracle is that Last Train Home, with its greenish pallor and omnipresent despair, never caves in under its own heavy burden; Fan shot the film himself and co-edited it, and his sense of rhythm and perspective is as strong as his disposition is humane.