PFS Film Review
A Thousand Years of Good Prayers


 

A Thousand Years of Good PrayersA Thousand Years of Good Prayers, directed by Wayne Wang, is based on a novel by Yiyun Li. When the film begins, Mr. Shi (played by Henry O) has landed at Spokane airport, where he is greeted by his thirtysomething daughter Yilan (played by Feihong U). They had not seen each other for twelve years, but in that time the distance between them has become unbridgeable. A widower, he had flown from Beijing to Seattle and taken a connecting flight to the city in eastern Washington that is the home of Gonzaga University, where Yilan is a librarian. Although his father takes the trip with the professed aim of seeing America, Yilan soon learns that he has a different motive—to become a grandfather. The significance of the title is that a good marriage takes the equivalent of a thousand years of good prayers to survive. Yilan had divorced earlier and now is being courted by a Russian professor, Boris (played by Pavel Lichnikov). During the day he is mostly at home alone, snooping around the house, though he also befriends an Iranian woman (played by Vida Gharemani) in a nearby park to share his frustration that his daughter has not behaved traditionally. Although there are humorous moments, such as the visit of two Mormons to Yilan’s apartment, the mutual frustration of father and daughter build to a showdown. Although the resolution of the conflict (cultural and generational) seems predestined rather than surprising, the portrayals eloquently convey their sentiments. MH

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