Zhang Zeming's beautiful debut feature opens in the early 1960s, just before the nightmare of the Cultural Revolution, and focuses on a Cantonese composer unable to get his music published or performed. His troubles with the authorities are lifelong; he entered 'New China' with an opium habit, a black mark that cost him his job, broke up his marriage, and pushed him into the shadows, where the only people who will play his stuff are a street orchestra of blind musicians. All his hopes are invested in his son, a promising musician, who runs off as a 'Red Guard' and returns ten years later a street-smart delinquent. Tracing an elaborate pattern of betrayals and disappointments, the films avoids all taint of miserabilism. The spirit running through it is that of the music itself: haunting and elegiac, but also strong and proudly rooted in traditional Cantonese culture.