In his nine feature films, Chinese auteur Chen Kaige has given Western audiences amazing opportunities to learn the ins and outs of China's tumultuous history, most notably in Temptress Moon, The Emperor and the Assassin, and the Oscar-nominated Farewell My Concubine. Chen's latest, Together, is a more humble effort than those historical epics, but beyond its heartwarming tale of a 13-year-old violin prodigy and his impoverished father's attempts to give him a better life no matter what there's a gritty depiction of old China colliding with new, for better and for worse.

Liu Xiaochun (Tang Yun, in a piece of casting that's nothing short of miraculous) has already amazed all the locals in his provincial town with his musical talents. He needs a bigger stage. His widower father Liu Cheng (Liu Peiqi) decides to leave his nightmarish job as a restaurant cook, tuck his meager life savings into his red cap, and take Xiaochun to Beijing, where he hopes to find a suitable violin teacher and new opportunities for his son.

Continue reading: Together (2002) Review