One of Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien's best-known films, this semi-autobiographical drama follows the childhood and teenage years of a young man named Ah-ha, as he comes of age in the Taiwan countryside. Though born on the Chinese mainland, Ah-ha moves to Taiwan at a very early age when his father accepts a government position upon the island.
His family soon becomes permanent residents of the island, thanks a combination of historical circumstance -- the Communist takeover of the mainland -- and his father's increasingly poor health.
The family endures, despite serious financial difficulties that lead several of his older siblings to compromise their dreams for the sake of the common good, and cause increasing tension between the family members.
Soon, Ah-ha's father has passed away and his siblings have left home, leaving him responsible for the family's well-being while dealing with his own personal struggles.
This deliberate, intimately detailed drama utilizes a straightforward, unadorned style to present the family's trials and tribulations, which also reflect the shifts in Taiwanese society during the time of the director's youth.
One of Hou Hsiao-Hsien's biggest successes in his home country, the film also received worldwide acclaim, winning special recognition at the Berlin Film Festival.