"Shower" examines the current state of Chinese culture where traditions
are being abandoned by the modern world.
A young wealthy businessman's icy attitude toward his working-class
background is about to thaw as he is forced to reconnect with his
elderly father and mentally challenged younger brother, who together
run a public bathhouse.
After receiving a cryptic postcard from his brother, Da Ming (Pu
Cun Xin) believes that his elderly father has died. He takes time
off from his high-paying job in the ultra-modernized region of Shenzhen
to head north to the home of his youth in Beijing.
Here he finds his father alive and well. In fact, it appears to
Da Ming that nothing has changed in the old neighborhood. His father,
Master Liu (Zhu Xu) still spends his days wearing only a towel.
He owns a public men's bathhouse. His customers have become his
family. They loyally come to the baths every day to soak in the
hot tubs, get massaged, and reveal their deepest secrets. Here,
stripped of social restrictions, they believe they can find the
solutions to their problems.
Once again throwing in the towel on his father and brother, Er
Ming (Jiang Wu), Da Ming prepares to rush back to his fast-paced
life. Da Ming seems to regard everything in his home town - from
the deteriorating bathhouse to Er Ming's constant need for attention
to his father's leisurely attitude to life - with a silent contempt.
But there seems to be a shift in Da Ming's perception when Er Ming
turns up missing and his father blames the self-absorbed Da Ming.
Convinced that his stoic older son looks down on his old-fashioned
lifestyle, Master Liu defends his life: "I've done this all my life
and I do it well. You want to do big things. You want to make money.
Go ahead! Er Ming and I are fine without you."
Da Ming, who up until now had shunned baths for more practical
showers, reluctantly surrenders to the responsibilities of family
and trades in his three-piece suit for a cotton towel and slippers.
But, still, not all is well. When Master Liu learns that his ancient
decrepit bathhouse is scheduled to be demolished so that a shopping
mall can be erected, it seems a dark cloud is hovering above. It's
only the beginning of more serious tragedies to come. And Da Ming
must finally learn to shed his self-imposed class and social superiority
for the good of his family. In the process he will rediscover the
bathhouse's magical powers.