It's been more than 30 years since Liu Xiaodong spent any significant amount of time in his hometown of Jincheng. Perhaps it's the crossbred symptom of travel weariness and mid-life reflection that has led the celebrated artist back to his parents' living room; whatever the cause, he has found the perfect spot from which to paint. Following Liu on a quest to re-paint the people who first posed for his art school portfolio, the film captures a master at work gently observing and composing his subjects. And likewise, the film bears the still, contemplative mark of another master, Hou Hsiao-hsien (whose protégé Yao Hongyi is the film's director). One by one we encounter the painter's childhood friends - a fantastic crew of rapscallions he calls the "forgotten working class" - through whom a greater story about modern China unfolds.