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Film Review - "Together"

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Joy Chao
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Film Review - "Together"

Summary of the film –

In the film Together, Liu Xiaochuan, a violin prodigy, and his father, Liu Cheng, travel from their small hometown to Beijing in search for fame that Xiaochuan’s dad so badly longs for his son to achieve. Much to their surprise, the environment in Beijing is a lot different than their hometown; not only do they have a hard time finding Xiaochuan a teacher, but Liu Cheng has to work as a restaurant delivery person, despite the fact that he is quite a famous chef in his hometown. This is all for the sake of supporting Xiaochuan. Teacher Jiang is Xiaochuan’s first violin teacher, simply because he was the only available violin teacher at that time. He is first introduced as a very anti-social individual due to his heart getting broken by his first love. To hasten the process for Xiaochuan to become famous, Liu Cheng insists on changing violin teachers. This decision creates a rift and strains his relationship with Xiaochuan. In the meantime, Xiaochuan came across a girl named LiLi who takes Xiaochuan in as her younger brother. As their friendship starts to grow, Xiaochuan realizes that LiLi’s boyfriend is cheating on her and has broken her heart numerous times. While this is happening, Li Cheng is able to find a new music teacher, Professor Yu, by telling him a secret that has never been revealed – Xiaochuan was actually found by him at a train station. Xiaochuan is very resistant to Yu’s teaching at first, but Liu Cheng convinces Xiaochuan to study under Yu and decides to go back to his hometown to make more money to support Xiaochuan. In the following weeks and months after Li Cheng leaves, Xiaochuan grows depressed and homesick, and tells Yu that he doesn’t feel like playing violin anymore. In order for Xiaochuan to practice and “not to lose face” for his father, Yu tells him the secret. In the last 10 minutes of the film, Xiaochuan is selected by Yu to participate in the competition, but Xiaochuan decides to give this chance to another girl who had competed with him for this rare opportunity of a lifetime. At the end of the film, Xiaochuan is shown running to the train station, playing the piece he would have performed in the competition = in front of his dad and other travelers. The movie ends with the pair holding each other and cry happy tears.

For classroom usage –

Before showing the film, I would give the students a list of key vocabulary words (some already learned and some that they should be able to pick up from context). I would also post the following questions before showing the film so students would stay focused while watching, and do a group/class discussion after we watch it:

  1. What are some of the culture shocks that Liu Cheng and Xiaochun encounter after they move to Beijing?
  2. What was the relationship between Liu Cheng and Xiaochuan while they lived in their hometown? How has it changed since they moved to Beijing?
  3. Teacher Jiang, LiLi, Professor Yu - How has each of their life changed after meeting Xiaochuan? What do you think causes this change?
  4. Do you think Liu Cheng made the right decision of switching Xiaochuan’s violin teacher? Why?
  5. Do you think Professor Jiang should tell Xiaochuan the “secret” as a way to solicit his devotion to his own father?
  6. Do you think Xiaochuan makes the right decision at the end? What would you do if you were him?
  7. “Filial piety” means one’s “selfless devotion to the parents” – which parts of the film do you see this Chinese virtue being portrayed?