Young Tung-Tung and his little sister spend the vacation with their grandparents while mother lies sick in hospital. It's an eventful stay, but Hou never opts for melodrama, and at first his quietly amused observation of events seems to border on the inconsequential. Not so, however. What makes the film so affecting is its unflinching honesty. As boy and girl take time off from playing games to become barely comprehending witnesses to the adult world, the film examines, with precision and wit, both the innocence and the unthinking cruelty of childhood. But life among the grown-ups is no better, and the children are confronted with violence, crime, sexual passion, and the presence of death. It's a clear-eyed movie, never sentimental, always intelligent and revealing.