Xizao (1999) - Synopsis

Shower opens with a wondrous fantasy of a high-tech automated shower modelled after a modern car wash. It then slams into a vision of a traditional bathhouse. A custom thousands of years old and a culture unto itself, with its own conventions, rules and concepts, the bathhouse promotes communal equality. Stripped of clothing, daily trappings and social rank, a wide variety of characters can interact on an equal basis. But this old Beijing bathhouse, once a community necessity, now services only retirees and ne'er-do-wells who gather daily for massages, hot swims, gossip and games.

Operated by ancient levers and gears, enormous boilers and leaking pipes held together with rags and twine, it is run by an old man who cares for his stay-at-home grown son. Both have been abandoned by the elder son who seeks his fortune in the modernity of the Shenzhen economic development region. Mistakenly believing that his father has died, the errant son returns to Beijing. To his surprise, he is forced to face the responsibilities of family and deal with the problems of modernisation as they affect his life.