Starring Yun Tang, Peiqi Liu, Hong Chen, Zhiwen Wang and Kaige
Directed by Kaige Chen
CARRIES A GOOD TUNE
(Yun Tang) is a 13-year-old violin prodigy who lives with his father, Liu (Pequi
Liu) Cheng, in a small Chinese city. Shy and sensitive, Xiaochun doesn't say
much – music is his way of expressing his feelings. But his entire life
changes when his father, wanting only the best for him, takes him to live in
immense, metropolitan Beijing. Liu Cheng is willing to sacrifice everything
so Xiaochun can audition for a prestigious music school and take lessons that
befit his talent. In this new world, Xiaochun encounters new and demanding
teachers, discovers true friendship, learns how painful life's choices can be,
and comes to understand the strength of his father's love. Featuring an
incredible classical soundtrack, Chen Kaige's TOGETHER is a stirring
drama about the power of music and the importance of family.
Chen Kaige (Sometimes said Kaige Chen) has previously helmed such critical
hits like FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE and THE EMPEROR AND THE ASSASSIN.
His love of music is used in full force here, adding a level of uncompromised
sophistication to a richly textured script. The film is filled with
interesting characters and scenarios. Xiaochun's father Liu Cheng is a
sincere man, doing whatever it takes to help his son succeed, even if it means
working several demeaning jobs at all hours of the day. Cheng carries his
entire fortune inside his hat, which is a fitting characteristic for this
rather simple man. Pequi Liu gives an amusing and endearing portrayal in
Cheng, making us respect him no matter what he may be doing. Xiaochun on the
other hand is consumed only with his talent. The violin has become his entire
life, and though he may bring joy to others when playing, there is an
emptiness weighing heavily upon him. Yun Tang, who has apparently never acted
before, is simply amazing as Xiaochun, turning in a beautifully layered
performance that will easily impress you. Hong Chen plays Lili, a gorgeous
material girl who switches boyfriends almost as many times as she changes
clothes. Xiaochun becomes fascinated, and perhaps somewhat infatuated, with
her alluring attitude. Though she's obviously low on the moral scale, we find
ourselves attracted to her as well, perhaps simply for her erratic behavior.
Zhiwen Wang play Professor Jiang, a rather eccentric man who helps Xiaochun
find comfort while playing. Jiang becomes almost like a more serious father
to Xiaochun, though his teaching methods are sometimes questionable. The
film's director Chen Kaige doubles his duties by playing the stern Professor
Yu, who only teaches the finest musicians, and may just be the one person who
can truly get Xiaochun the attention that is needed.
makes the film so good is that everyone we're introduced to is interesting and
unique. All of the characters have a driving force that motivates them.
Xiaochun has his violin. Cheng has his son. Lili has her clothes. Professor
Jiang has music. And Professor Yu has his students. What's really intriguing
is watching how music (particularly Xiaochun's music) affects all of their
lives, and in many ways shows their true colors. The music plays a big part
in the film, sometimes dominating scenes for several minutes on end, though it
never becomes overdone. Kaige uses the music to help tell the story. The
relationship between father and son takes precedence in the script, but all of
the events surrounding these two make for an amazing time. The violin solos
are performed by Chuanyun Li, who also makes a brief cameo in the film as
Professor Yu's prodigy. You will hear violin music unlike anything ever
played before. Chen's directing is top notch. The visuals are done with the
utmost grace, and the pacing is carried out well. Aside from a few slow
moments, the film remains consistently engaging. If you're looking for a
really good film this Father's Day, look no further than TOGETHER. I'm
hoping it receives wide recognition, and feel confident we may be hearing more
about it come Oscar time. What more can I say, GO SEE IT!
UNITED ARTISTS 2003.
BIGFANBOY.com score - On a scale of
1 to 10, 10 being the best, I give TOGETHER a 9.
Director CHEN KAIGE on TOGETHER
Kaige appeared in Dallas to promote TOGETHER, and Mark Walters had the
opportunity to ask him a few questions about the film.
To read what Chen Kaige
had to say,
See our FILM REVIEW ARCHIVE
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