Made in: China
Language: Chinese (Mandarin)
Director: Chen Kaige
Starring: Peiqi Liu, Yun Tang, Hong Chen, Zhiwen Wang, Chen Kaige
Synopsis: Thirteen year-old violin prodigy Liu Xiaochun (Yun Tang) is living a simple life in a rural Chinese village with his peasant father, Liu Cheng (Peiqi Liu). Slated to participate in a music competition, Liu Cheng gathers all his money and takes Xiaochun to modern, sprawling Beijing.
Knowing his son has a passion and gift for music, Liu Cheng clearly understands that the boy has no future in the village.
In the hustle-bustle and bright lights of China's capital, Liu Cheng becomes determined to find an instructor for his son in hopes that Xiaochun's musical talent will ultimately lead to success.
Soon after beginning his tutelage under Professor Yu Shifeng (Zhiwen Wang), a borderline-burnout but nonetheless insightful and wise master, Xiaochun's journey quickly becomes a complicated adventure.
Through a series of chance encounters, shattering revelations, and ordeals, including an unlikely friendship with a young cosmopolitan gold-digger named Lili (Hong Chen), Liu Cheng and his son discover how the love of music leads them to a deeper, life-changing understanding of what it means to be truly successful and fortunate.
The Good: Heartfelt, humorous, philosophical, and emotionally powerful, Together is a modern masterpiece. A story of fate, heartbreak, the many facets of love, and the collision of old-country values with modern realities, Chen Kaige (who also plays a prominent character) does a brilliant job bringing many of life's complexities to light in a single film without taking the story off target.
Although not all of Beijing is showcased (the town is literally the size of Belgium after all), Chen Kaige also manages a bold but realistic commentary on the psychological/emotional impact of China's skyrocketing wealth and modernity on its citizens.
With breathtaking performances of Tchaikovsky's classics and others, this is a moving film with plenty of universal appeal.
The Bad: It's true that great films always leave you wanting more, and Together is no exception. However, I can't help but think that Zhiwen Wang's character, Professor Yu Shifeng, was a bit underutilized.
Who would like this movie: Although anyone can pretty much identify with most of the main themes here, this film is best suited for you if you're a music lover, an experienced viewer/fan of foreign cinema, or if you're interested in things that have to do with modern China.
Together is a feel-good movie with both depth and entertainment value.
(3 and 1/2 stars out of 4)
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