A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (2008) - Rotten Tomatoes

A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (2008)



Critic Consensus: 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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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 attempts to forge a connection with his daughter lead to some buried issues bursting forth between the pair. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovimore
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Romance, Art House & International
Directed By:
Written By: Yiyun Li
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 26, 2009
Magnolia Pictures - Official Site


Henry O
as Mr. Shi
Faye Yue
as Yilan
Liz Mathews
as Business Woman
Ryan Sanson
as Plane Passenger
Patrick Treadway
as Homeless Man
Lonny W. Waddle
as City Bus Passenger
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for A Thousand Years of Good Prayers

Critic Reviews for A Thousand Years of Good Prayers

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (16)

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

Full Review… | December 16, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top 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.

Full Review… | November 20, 2008
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Wang's approach is measured and restrained, his shots simple and immaculate, the emotional stakes deepening scene by scene. It's a miniature gem.

Full Review… | November 6, 2008
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

A quiet work with Ozu-like structure and concerns, but remains more an intellectual exercise than one from the heart.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | October 17, 2008
Boston Globe
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | October 9, 2008
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

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]

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!

Leo L

Super Reviewer

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