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Last Train Home


Lixin Fan

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About the Movie

Every spring, China’s cities are plunged into chaos, as all at once, a tidal wave of humanity attempts to return home by train. It is the Chinese New Year and the wave is made up of millions of migrant factory workers. The homes they seek are the rural villages and families they left behind to seek work in the booming coastal cities. It is an epic spectacle that tells us much about China, a country discarding traditional ways as it hurtles towards modernity and global economic dominance. Last Train Home draws us into the fractured lives of a single migrant family caught up in this desperate annual migration. Sixteen years ago, the Zhangs abandoned their young children to find work in the city, consoled by the hope that their wages would lift their children into a better life. But in a bitter irony, the Zhangs’ hopes for the future are undone by their very absence. Qin, the child they left behind, has grown into adolescence crippled by a sense of abandonment. In an act of teenage rebellion, she drops out of school. She too will become a migrant worker. The decision is a heartbreaking blow for the parents. In classic cinema verité style, Last Train Home follows the Zhangs’ attempts to change their daughter’s course and repair their ruptured family. Intimate and candid, the film paints a human portrait of the dramatic changes sweeping China.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 53
  • Fresh: 53
  • Rotten: 0
  • Average Rating: 8.3/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: Tells the story of a family caught, and possibly crushed, between the past and the future--a story that, on its own, is moving, even heartbreaking. Multiplied by 130 million, it becomes a terrifying and sobering panorama of the present. – A.O. Scott, New York Times, Sep 3, 2010

Fresh: This is essential viewing for understanding our world. – Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly, Sep 8, 2010

Fresh: Helmed by Fan Lixin, who also takes credits as d.p. and co-editor, the pic laudably adopts an intimate, personal approach to a subject -- hardworking Chinese garment workers -- that's been covered in more hectoring fashion elsewhere. – Leslie Felperin, Variety, Aug 30, 2010

Fresh: An expert, unobtrusive observer, Fan disappears inside his own film and allows us to get completely inside his subjects' lives. – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times, Sep 17, 2010

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

Painful to watch

Knowing the money they earn is barely adequate a couple makes sacrifices for the future of their family, only to watch their young daughter fall prey to the same lifestyle. You will feel the burdens of all individuals being filmed during this movie, from the migrating family the film focuses on, to the young ladies crushed by a crowd of thousands at a train station, they are all in pain. A word has to be said about their daughter, a young woman who does not see a good life ahead of her, who feels neglected, and at the same time is venting her frustration in the only way she knows how to. The couple is trapped in a whirlwind of life, and do a excellent job at keeping composure, except for one dramatic moment during filming. Enough can' t be said in few statements to describe this documentary.

favorite movie from past year

understated yet powerfully moving


This documentary is gripping. It brings home the sacrifice that parents are willing to make for their children and the unimaginable dilemmas that ensue when family balance is disrupted by the need to survive financially. It will make you think before you put on your next pair of jeans made in China.

Last Train Home
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Customer Ratings

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