Time Out says

Fresh from the debacle of Killing Me Softly, Chen returns to the all-male themes he's most comfortable with (fathers and sons, teachers and pupils) and turns in a slick and sentimental crowd-pleaser without a trace of the aesthetic ambition which coloured even his weakest previous work. The teenage Xiaochun (Tang), brought up in scenic Suzhou by his uneducated lone-parent dad (Liu), is a whiz on the violin. Father takes son to Beijing to seek training for his obvious talent; they wind up first with the eccentric and irascible Professor Jiang (Wang) and then with the aloof and competitive Professor Yu (Chen Kaige himself), who engineers a rivalry between the boy and his existing star pupil, a girl. Meanwhile Xiaochun finds a surrogate mother-sister in Lili (Chen Hong, the director's current wife), the outwardly hard-as-nails gold-digger who lives opposite his picturesquely squalid digs. The film aims for a tone of rhapsodic melodrama and - nauseatingly - achieves it in a climax in which victory is snatched from the jaws of defeat and Xiaochun's true origins are revealed in out of the blue flashbacks, all to a Tchaikovsky soundtrack.


Release details

118 mins

Cast and crew

Chen Kaige
Chen Kaige, Xue Xiaolu
Tang Yun
Liu Peiqi
Chen Hong
Wang Zhiwen
Chen Kaige
Cheng Qian
Zhang Qing
Kim Hye-Ri
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