The retired Xu (veteran actor Li), going to seed in a cold northern city, can't stop wondering how his life would have been if he'd made a different choice 40 years earlier. A trip to 'exotic' Yunnan in the tropical south-west gives him the chance to explore what might have been - until he half-willingly falls victim to an extortion scam and finds himself trapped in his own mildly erotic dream. (His captor is an extremely laidback chief of police, played in a cherishable cameo by director Tian Zhuangzhuang.) Zhu makes a remarkably successful transition from underground to mainstream film-making with this follow-up to Seafood, offering his parents' generation a symbolic redemption for the years they lost to fervent Maoism. But he also edges into Groundhog Day territory with thoughts about day dreaming, entrapment and life as a garden of forking paths.
Cast and crew