It starts off as a slow Earthy tale of a 13 year old recent graduate who is forced to teach in the local primary school as the present (and the only) teacher had to leave to look after his dying Mother. Soon you notice the dynamics of a budding teacher (who herself is adolescent) with a class of 28 students, making you long for the control and stature that she lacks. The kids are a handful, and then some. Especially this one boy whose only solace is in being the center of attraction of the class; by hook, or by crook.
The story takes a swift turn when the previous teacher and the village-mayor promise Wei 50 Yuan in a month, and bonus, if she succeeds in retaining the student-count to 28, not one less. Before your realize, the plot has chained itself around you, as you become a first person force from a passive observer. You will grind teeth, cross nails with each other, and be amazed at the resilience and tirelessness that a teenager demonstrates when looking for a lost student. And then it will hit you. Simplicity. Courage. Perseverance. And three tears.
What a bliss to watch this live painting by Yimou Zhang. The only movie in a long while that gets a perfect score from me: 5.0/5.0. Bravo!