China at the beginning of the eighties: sixteen-year-old Xiao-Yun lives in a small town on the river. When her teacher finds out she is pregnant, she and her boyfriend Wang-Feng are expelled from school. Wang-Feng leaves the town after persuading his sister to look after Yun and then have the baby given up for adoption. The film then returns to Yun’s story ten years after she has given birth and been told that the baby has died. She is still living in her native town and working as a singer. She is having an affair with a married man, but her only real companion is young Xiao-Yong, an inquisitive and impish little boy. He soon becomes her devoted friend, servant and “little brother”. When after a while Yun finds out who Xiao-Yong is, she has to make an agonising decision… Realistic in style, the film is not just a story of the friendship between a grown woman and a child, but an exploration of the influence of family and environment on the development of a young life.
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