Boy, this was a heck of a movie or moreso a documentary. I need to take some time and investigate the genesis of this movie and how the documented family was selected.
I thought this was all about the massive chinese mass transit system or something like that - wrong.
Simply, every Chinese New Year (I think it is a near 10 day holiday), 130 million migrant chinese workers go home to visit family. This movie focused on 1 specific Chinese family where the husband and wife live in a major city sewing seemingly endless hours per day/week all year long and sending money home. Home is 2100 kilometers away where their son and daughter live with one of their mothers.
First getting home is a huge task as the # of folks "going home" exceed the transportation capacity (primarily train and bus and some boats). The family portrayed here pays a premium price for days of horrible travel conditions for just a few days home. This family, and no doubt many other families keep their children in the safer countryside with a near 100% emphasis on schooling (so the children can break the cycle and be more successful than their parents)
No doubt this lack of parent/child interaction leads to family breakdowns and problems.
Fascinating movie watching the lives and struggles of this family play out with the impact of the Bejing Olympics (2008) and the world financial crisis (also 2008) intertwining itself into the film.
The parent/child struggles (especially with the older daughter trying to find herself/spot in the world) combined with the harsh realities of being a poor, dedicated migrant workers make this a sad but fabulous film.