The year is 1974 and the cultural revolution in China is reaching its final chapter. All over the countryside revolutionary intellectuals are labouring in camps, within a military style hierarchy, farming the land in preparation for the future. All in the spirit of Mao Zedong, and under strict guidelines from the party leaders.
Xing Yi (Shu Qi) is one of these intellectuals. She's trying to get permission to go home and take care of her sick father. But the bureaucracy of getting something like that through is too much, and she's forced to return to her camp.
On the way home she runs into a man, Sie Mong (Liu Ye), who helps her get on the bus. There's an instant connection between the two, but their ways part when Sie Mong is forced to flee at a checkpoint.
Xing Yi returns to her platoon and life in the camp resumes its normal rhythm, but her mind still preoccupied with the man she met on the bus.
During a visit to the Red Post Town market the platoon cook catches a pick pocket, but the situation escalates into a giant fight between Xing Yi's platoon, and another group of intellectuals.
When Xing Yi arrives to break up the fight, she realizes that Sie Mong is part of the other group, and so the man she thought she would never see again, is suddenly right in front of her.
Soon Sie Mong seeks out Xing Yi and the two begin to see more of each other. Meanwhile the leader of the platoon Ding Guo (Fang Bin), who is also Xing Yi's childhood friend and lover, senses that there's a connection between Xing Yi and Sie Mong.
In the middle of this, the soldiers of his platoon plan to take revenge on Sie Mong's unit by attacking them, and he's left wondering if he should try to stop it...