Directed by acclaimed Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine), the movie Together, also known as "He Ni Zai Yi Qi" is a touching story about a son and his father.
Liu Xiaochun (Tang Yun) is a violin prodigy who is well-known throughout his community. His father, Liu Cheng (Liu Peiqi), hoping that he will achieve fame, sacrifices everything to allow him to play the violin. Xiaochun has a love for playing the violin, a passion that is incredibly powerful. They leave their house in the rural area to move to Beijing, where Xiaochun auditions for a prestigious music conservatory. He is rejected not because of his ability, which was superior to everyone's, but because of his single parent family's low financial status. Liu Cheng finally finds a teacher for Xiaochun in Beijing - the quirky, intelligent, but distracted Professor Jiang (Wang Zhiwen). While living in Beijing, 13-year-old Xiaochun meets some extraordinary people and has his first glimpses of the adolescent world that lies ahead. He becomes attracted to Lili (Chen Hong, who is Chen Kaige's wife), a party girl who is friendly deep down inside. His father later finds him a spot with the well-known conservatory teacher, Professor Yu (played by Chen Kaige himself), who can almost guarantee Xiaochun fame. However, his attraction to Lili, as well as a newly revealed secret (you will have to watch the film to find out) disturb Xiaochun's desire to succeed. He must then make the difficult decision between success and self-fulfillment.
This story is inevitably about a father-son relationship. It shows the strength of family, which is depicted through a coming-of-age story about a violin prodigy. The movie could be accused as a wannabe tear-jerker, but it was truly inspiring to me. I felt that Xiaochun's romance and obsession with Lili was slightly unnecessary and took away from the real meat of the story: Xiaochun and his father. However, I did like the character Lili very much. She was obviously not a perfectly neat lady, but she made the right decision in the end and helped out Xiaochun. Her actions at the end moved me greatly - it brought tears to my eyes. The protagonist, Xiaochun, bothered me just slightly because he often does not see how much his father sacrifices for his well-being. He can be rather selfish and moody, especially when he refuses to play after his father has gone through so much effort to find a teacher for him.
The acting is superior in this film - there is not one performance I was unsatisfied with. My greatest credits go to Tang Yun, who plays Xiaochun. Not only is he a superior violinist (as a violinist myself, I admire his skill), but he also accurately depicts Xiaochun's high and low points. Chen Hong, who plays Lili, was somewhat two-dimensional in the beginning but became a deep character after she helps Xiaochun in the second half. Professor Jiang was probably the best performance of them all - Wang Zhiwen did an excellent job with the deep and complex Professor Jiang. Even Zhang Qing, who played the minor role of Lin Yu (a girl who becomes rivals with Xiaochun when they both study with Professor Yu) impressed me with her emotional and ruthless desire for success. One of his best scenes was when he parted with Xiaochun at their last lessons - Professor Jiang acted so kindly that it brought tears to my eyes.
Considering the role that music plays in this movie, I have to say that the cinematography was excellent. The music was always suitable for the situation, with wonderful, famous pieces including my personal favorite, Tchaikovsky's Concerto in D Major.
Despite this movie's positive points, there is a flaw: the predictable movie starts out too slow. If I were to rate the movie after the first half, I would have merely given it an average score. The film did not come out and capture the audience's attention - it took some perseverance to continue watching. There are some plot flaws and under-developed storylines, typical problems of a movie. For example, when Liu Cheng leaves Professor Jiang for a new teacher, the entire story with Professor Jiang ends, but Professor Jiang appears yet again at the train station. However, regardless of its predicability and slow start, the story did tie in together for a very moving ending. The movie does not answer all of the viewer's questions either, as mysteries still remain at the conclusion of the movie.
Two lessons are learned in this movie: music is a language that comes from the heart, and families are not always blood-related. Meanwhile, it also hints at some social issues, including the power of financial influence and the desire to succeed.
A very meaningful production.
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