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A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (2008)



Average Rating: 6.8/10
Reviews Counted: 38
Fresh: 30 | Rotten: 8

Though it may not be as profound as its pacing would suggest, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers delicately examines familial issues in an earnest fashion.


Average Rating: 6.7/10
Critic Reviews: 17
Fresh: 14 | Rotten: 3

Though it may not be as profound as its pacing would suggest, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers delicately examines familial issues in an earnest fashion.



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Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 851

My Rating

Movie Info

Wayne Wang's intimate drama A Thousand Years of Good Prayers stars Henry O as Mr. Shi, a Chinese man who, after the death of his wife, decides to travel to the United States in order to see his estranged daughter for the first time in over a decade. Their time together is awkward at first, seeing each other only at dinner when he cooks for her. Shi spends his days taking in the strange culture, improving his language skills, and making a friend in an Iranian woman. Eventually his persistent


Drama, Romance, Art House & International

Yiyun Li

May 26, 2009

Magnolia Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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Latest News on A Thousand Years of Good Prayers

September 16, 2008:
Wayne Wang Gets Personal With New Films
After making a detour into middle-of-the-road studio fare, director Wayne Wang has moved back into...


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All Critics (40) | Top Critics (17) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (8)

As in most of Wang's films, a memorable cast of characters compensates for a serviceable plot.

December 16, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A keenly observed portrait of a parent and child estranged by geography, language, ideology and generation. In other words, a universal story of family in the age of globalization.

November 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
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Wang's approach is measured and restrained, his shots simple and immaculate, the emotional stakes deepening scene by scene. It's a miniature gem.

November 6, 2008 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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A quiet work with Ozu-like structure and concerns, but remains more an intellectual exercise than one from the heart.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A Thousand Years of Good Prayers feels like a fragile wafer of a movie, but it fills you like a three-course meal.

October 17, 2008 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An intensely observed, small-scale family drama involving disagreement between generations.

October 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Quizás el film más personal de Wayne Wang, un sobrio y cálido relato sobre las barreras culturales, idiomáticas o emocionales que suelen separar a los seres humanos.

January 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

Wang's new film suggests not only a return to form but also the revival of an old theme from his early Asian-American dramedies: the different ways that certain generations translate and adapt their cultural heritage

August 8, 2009 Full Review Source: indieWIRE

Well-written, beautifully shot, and meticulously acted

May 30, 2009 Full Review Source:

This is a nice, quietly heartwarming film. The tone really got through to me. I never laughed out loud, but always had a steady grin. Charming.

November 14, 2008 Full Review Source: Sin Magazine
Sin Magazine

It's a short story of a movie: delicate, modest, beautifully observed.

November 7, 2008 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

A lovely film of small intentions, yet embellished with an enormous heart.

November 6, 2008 Full Review Source:

Touching look at a father's and daughter's strained relationship as they struggle through gaps of culture, language, gender, and historical context.

November 1, 2008 Full Review Source:

The minor key and quietly observational work is not earth-shattering or particularly urgent, though it enables a talented filmmaker to work through personal ideas about assimilation and family conflict in an open, smart and gracious way.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Screen International
Screen International

Meticulously paced and beautifully shot.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Cinematical

A Chinese father visiting his Americanized daughter in Washington finds communication difficult, but the film offers rewards for the patient.

October 14, 2008 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

The emptiness felt by Yiyun Li's characters doesn't seem as much the result of an emotional void than a too-thin plot.

October 3, 2008 Full Review Source: Washington City Paper
Washington City Paper

It's a mildly poignant generation-gap story.

September 26, 2008 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Daily News
Los Angeles Daily News

Audience Reviews for A Thousand Years of Good Prayers

[font=Century Gothic]Sensitively directed by Wayne Wang, "A Thousand Years of Good Prayers" is a deeply moving film about Shi(Henry O), a retired rocket scientist and widower, going to vist his daughter Yilan(Faye Yu) in America. Yilan at first eats dinner with her father but soon gets annoyed and starts avoiding him which is strange behavior considering this may be the last time they ever see each other.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Her benign neglect reminded me of "Tokyo Story" in its lamenting of how badly treated the elderly are in society but in this case, it runs both ways, a reminder of how it is the generation gap that makes communication even more difficult than any language barrier. For example, despite his limited command of English, Shi manages well on his own and makes the acquaintance of others including a pair of Mormon missionaries. They quote from the Book of Mormon to which he replies with a quote from Marx.(I'll have to remember that for future reference...) This just goes to show that Shi is from a generation when Communism was still the orthodoxy in China. But now, he lives in a country that has changed massively and traveled to a strange country that he seeks to comprehend.[/font]
September 29, 2008
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

A captivating movie that follows a lonely widower's journey to see his estranged daughter in America. Leaving poignant memories behind in China, Mr. Shi truly hopes that he can reconnect with his daughter, Yilan, and set upon a path where he can truly embrace the genuine meaning of family and fatherhood. He enters a country where the culture is stranger than the language itself, and surprisingly connects and befriends an elderly Iranian woman in a neighboring park. Mr. Shi realizes that in order to fully accept the present circumstances with his daughter, the past must also be fully recognized and accepted whether the many years that have come and gone.
Henry O, Feihong Yu, Vida Ghahremani, and Pasha D. Lychnikoff stars. Worthy!
February 27, 2011
Leo L

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Un millier d'années de bonnes prières (FR)
  • Mil años de oración (ES)
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