If there was a movie more fitting of the title Lost in Translation than the actual film with that name, it's Wayne Wang's A Thousand Years of Good Prayers. Mr. Shi (Henry O) travels from Beijing to visit his adult daughter Yilan (Feihong Yu) at her home in Washington State, and though cordial, the two silently spar over Mr. Shi's old-world values and Yilan's American lifestyle. These two speak the same language, but with different vocabularies: one of independence, and one of tradition. And as if there's not enough cultural confusion already, Mr. Shi also befriends Madam (Vida Ghahremani), an Iranian woman living with her adult son and his wife. Both Mr. Shi and Madam struggle with English—but they manage, at least, to communicate more truths to each other than Mr. Shi and Yilan are able.
Director Wang pieces together A Thousand Years of Good Prayers beautifully. He quietly but effectively navigates generational and cultural fissures, while superb performances make the film's somewhat predictable emotional climax feel genuine. After so much silence and aborted conversations, it's a relief to have these characters really speak to each other using language they both understand.