Synopsis: A violin prodigy from rural China travels to Beijing, where his father seeks to make him a success. However, the boy struggles to accept the path laid before him and questions the direction he wants his life to take.
In Suzhou, the canal city near Shanghai, 13-year-old Xiaochun has been raised by his father, Cheng, a peasant with very little education. The boy is a naturally gifted violinist and Cheng is determined to get him a musical education. The two travel north to Beijing so that Xiaochun can attend an audition. But they're told that the boy won't be allowed to study in a state school unless he has a private tutor and residency in the city, obstacles that the tenacious father manages to overcome.
This is an unabashedly sentimental film from the gifted director Chen Kaige, the man who helped put Chinese cinema on the map with Yellow Earth in 1984 and whose most famous film remains Farewell My Concubine, made nine years later. In the intervening ten years, Chen has made the spectacular, but rather disappointing, The Emperor And The Assassin after which he went to Britain to film the Nikki French thriller, Killing Me Softly, which was a complete disaster. So now he's back in China with this crowd-pleaser about a little boy who plays the violin like a master – Tang Yun, who plays the child, is a student of the instrument – and his self-sacrificing Dad, beautifully played by Liu Peiqi. But more than that, the film looks at the rapidity with which China is changing; the contrast between Chen, who represents Old China, and Lili, Chen Hong, a young woman Xiaochun befriends, is enormous – Lili, with her mobile phone and her modern attitudes, clearly represents modern China. It's details like these that make Together more than just a sentimental pot-boiler but something rather more substantial.
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