Set in China during the Cultural Revolution of the 1970s, the story follows Luo (Chen Kun) and Ma (Liu Ye), two young men from the city who are sent to a mountain village for a "re-education" in Maoist principles through hard labour in the fields. Amid the backbreaking work both fall in love with the little Chinese seamstress (Zhou Xun), the daughter of the local tailor, and they read her forbidden works of Western literature, including French writers Balzac and Dumas. A stirring of emotions, both intellectual and romantic, sees Luo's teenage crush turn to passion and his tutoring of the seamstress opens the girl's eyes to life beyond the village and the boys. Featuring beautiful mountain scenery, this lyrical coming-of-age story is directed by Dai Sijie, and based on his own best-selling autobiographical novel.
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