Synopsis by Jason Buchanan
Over the course of five decades, a naïve ticket girl living in rural Communist China finds her life gradually shaped by the decrees of her government and the route of the Xiangyang bus in director Zhang Jiarui's emotionally sweeping tale of loyalty and maturity. Li Chunfen (Zhang Jingchu) is unwaveringly loyal to her government, and always assumes that they have her best interests in mind. A cheerful teen who works aboard a bus that travels the route between Longze and Xiangyang, Li admires crusty driver Old Cui (Fan Wei), and develops a warm puppy love for handsome young doctor Liu Fendou (Nie Yuan). When Liu is sent to labor in a stone quarry during the early years of the Cultural Revolution and Li sets out to pay a clandestine visit to her longtime love, a chaste kiss as she prepares to depart finds Li being forced to sign a report that claims she was raped. Years later, when the Communist party decrees that Cui must take a wife, he and Li are married. After the Cultural Revolution, Cui and Li's marriage begins to dissolve as Cui begins to experience impotency problems and Liu, who now lives in Shanghai, attempts to enter into a long-distance correspondence with the lovelorn Li. Despite the couple's valiant effort to make their unconventional marriage work, Li's life is forever changed as the result of a devastating tragedy. Later, as the '90s give way to the new millennium, lonely, middle-aged widow Li finally discovers the truth about her deceased husband.