A risible melodrama, told in flashback, about a Shanghai piano teacher and his friends who remain devoted to their art (Western classical music) from the '60s to '93. Since the period includes the Cultural Revolution, when foreign music was banned, much secrecy and suffering is involved, but the film often seems perversely apolitical, so that the Revolution registers as a brief, erroneous blip and, as such, part of life's rich tapestry. The tunes, perhaps inevitably, are all popular favourites, the ludicrous, lachrymose finale is overlong and disingenuous ('No regrets' indeed!), and the characterisation facile. Xia Gang should watch some movies by Sirk, who revelled in this kind of tosh, and learn to go with the melodrama, not against it.
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