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Zhang Xiaomei (Jin Ze), is a prostitute living in Beijing. When relationship problems with her boyfriend erupt, she flees to the resort city of Beidaihe and takes a room in a small hotel where she contemplates committing suicide. There she meets a young poet. The next morning, she wakes and learns that the poet has slit his wrists. When the police arrive, she meets Deng Jianguo (Cheng Taisheng), a middle-aged officer who questions her over the poet's death. Their relationship soon grows increasingly complicated as Deng learns of Xiaomei's plans to commit suicide. Over the course of several days, he takes her to eat seafood dinners, extolling the virtues and health benefits of the diet, including a claim that it makes him a more potent lover. When Xiaomei tries to commit suicide in a nearby town, she is thwarted by Deng who brings her back to Beidaihe and proceeds to rape her. Xiaomei eventually leaves the seaside town for Beijing again.

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