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Together
Chinese: 和你在一起
Music and life lessons in Together.
Year: 2002
Director: Chen Kaige
  Producers: Ton Gang, Chen Hong, Yang Buting, Yan Xiaoming, Li Boulun, Chen Kaige, Han Sanping, Huang Jianxin, Zhang Jin
  Writers: Chen Kaige, Xue Xiaolu
  Cast: Liu Peiqi, Chen Hong, Wang Zhiwen, Chen Kaige, Tang Yun
The Skinny: At the urging of his working class father, a young violin prodigy enters Beijing's hyper-competitive music scene in a bid for fame and fortune. But what he finds in the process turns out to be far more important than mere celebrity. Together amounts to a solid, if unspectacular, film from director Chen Kaige.
 
  Review by Calvin McMillin:

For love or money? Thatís the underlying question in Together, a fine musically oriented film from Chen Kaige, famed director of Farewell My Concubine. The story follows a mismatched father-son team as they seek fame and fortune in the Beijing music world. Liu Cheng (Liu Peiqi), a working class cook hailing from a small provincial town, would like nothing more than to see his thirteen-year-old son, Xiaochun (Tang Yun) succeed as a violinist. But the familyís lack of connections and wealth proves to be a huge obstacle in accomplishing that goal. In the early going, it seems that success depends mainly on who you know and who you can pay off.

But things start to turn around when Cheng convinces Jiang (Wang Zhiwen), a cranky violin teacher, to take Xiaochun under his wing. Remarkably, Xiaochun has a positive effect on the reclusive, often disheveled Jiang, teaching his mentor a thing or two about life, not to mention good personal hygiene. Somewhere in between all the music lessons, Xiaochun develops a crush on an older neighbor, Lili (Chen Hong), a somewhat materialistic twentysomething of dubious occupation (it's never clearly spelled out in the film). Like all crushes, Xiaochun's causes him to do something incredibly stupid, an act that will have repercussions later in the film.

That event is set into motion when Xiaochun's father decides to dump Jiang as a teacher in favor of the more famous Professor Yu Shifeng (Chen Kaige in a rare acting turn). The transition proves rough for Xiaochun, but he eventually makes the best of the situation. However, on the eve of a concert performance that could make or break Xiaochun's budding career, a stunning secret is revealed that changes his life forever. In the end, Xiaochun must evaluate just why he plays the violin in the first place. For love or money? His answer isn't too hard to figure out, but the obviousness in no way mars the film's rousing climax.

Handled differently, Together could have played out like a sappy, overly sentimental tearjerker. But in the hands of master director Chen Kaige, this tale of a father-son relationship feels neither manipulative nor crass. The film doesn't try to tug at the audience's heartstrings from the get-go, but instead allows the story to simply unfold, gradually investing the viewer in the lives of its ragtag group of characters. Although Together is somewhat unspectacular when taken as a whole, its final swell of emotion is such a cathartic experience that one would be hard-pressed to find a more rousing cinematic crescendo. (Calvin McMillin, 2004)

 
Availability: DVD (USA)
Region 1 NTSC
MGM Home Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital
Removable English Subtitles
Theatrical Trailer

image courtesy of MGM Home Entertainment

   
 
 
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