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Laramie Movie Scope:
Together (He ni zai yi qi)

A musical father and son story in Bejing

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 17, 2004 -- “Together” (He ni zai yi qi), is a delicate, eccentric story of a father and son from rural China, who head to the big city for the sake of the son's promising musical career. The father, Liu Cheng (Liu Peigi) dearly loves his son, Liu Xiaochun (Yun Tang) and wants him to succeed as a classical violinist. The boy is a prodigy (Yun Tang himself is also a violin prodigy), and has the talent to succeed, but perhaps not the temperament.

A key element in the story is that the boy plays his mother's violin. The violin provides a spiritual connection between him and the mother he never knew. Xiaochun plays with passion, but how much of that passion is tied up in the violin itself? While in Beijing, the father works long hours and looks for a music teacher for his son. He finds a teacher, professor Jiang (Wang Zhiwen), to teach him. Jiang is highly eccentric and spends as much time worrying about his cats as teaching Xiaochun. He does have a special connection to Xiaochun, however. He insists that the boy should not play the violin unless he really wants to. He also has the boy do some chores around his house. Both the boy and his father eventually tire of Jiang's odd teaching methods, and his cats. Chen works hard to find another teacher for his son. He finally secures the services of Professor Yu Shifeng (Kaige Chen), one of the best teachers in the city.

Professor Yu is a competent teacher, but there is some doubt that he has Xiaochun's best interests at heart. He uses some devious schemes to manipulate Xiaochun. Chen works long hours to help his son. Xiaochun earns extra money by playing for a neighbor, the lovely Lili (Hong Chen). Things get complicated when Xiaochun falls in love with Lili and loses interest in playing his violin. He also gets into a bitter rivalry with another of Professor Yu's students. Also, Chen feels like he is holding back his son's career, and decides to move back home, leaving Xiaochun to stay with Professor Yu in Beijing. At the same time Xiaochun finds out a secret about his past. Events reach a crisis. Xiaochun must decide whether he should stay with his father, or perform on a concert circuit. Everyone seems to want something from Xiaochun, except for his father, who only wants him to succeed. Lili doesn't seem to care for Xiaochun, but when the chips are down, she does the right thing. This crisis is solved in an unusual way.

This film has wonderful music in it, and a pretty good story. The acting is solid and the cinematography by Jiongqiu Jin and Hyung-ku Kim is excellent. While the film is a bit slow-moving at times and the story seems to circle back into some strange eddies, the characters are interesting enough to pull the audience along with the flow. The movie is directed by renowned director Kaige Chen (“Farewell My Concubine”). He also plays the part of Professor Yu in the film. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2004 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)