Synopsis by Mark Deming
A family's differences are reflected in the changing face of China near the turn of the millennium in this drama. In a decaying neighborhood in Beijing, a local bathhouse serves as a meeting place for the elderly men of the community; the house is run by Liu (Zhu Xu), assisted by his son Erming (Jiang Wu), who is mildly retarded and tends to live in a world of his own. Liu's other son, Daming (Pu Cunxin), who now lives in the Southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, arrives for a visit after hearing that Liu had died. Daming is happy to hear that the news of his father's death was greatly exaggerated, but as part of a younger generation that has adopted a Western-influenced lifestyle and business sense (including favoring showers over baths), he feels out of place in his father's world and there's a great emotional distance between the two. But when Erming disappears, the crisis brings Liu and Daming closer together, and Daming decides to extend his visit when he and Liu get word that the bathhouse is scheduled to be torn down in a few weeks. Veteran Chinese actor Feng Shun made his final screen appearance as a man who trains fighting crickets.
bathhouse, father, generation-gap, parent/child-relationship, son, visit, lifestyle