This is a fantastic film and it beats me why nobody seems to know about it. I've read that it was due to come out just as the Virginia Tech events took place, so the film was shelved and released quietly on DVD only two years later. That may be one of the reasons why it didn't get much coverage in the press/ adverts/ trailers etc. I also think it may be hard for some audiences to relate to it and appreciate it objectively due to the American baddie/ Asian goodie (turned baddie) dichotomy. Still, I find it hard to understand how this seems to have been off the radar for so long.
I don't want to reveal too many details, but the film is inspired by actual events, though, I understand, not entirely faithful to what happened in reality. The plot revolves around a brilliant Chinese student who goes to America to work on his PhD with a famous cosmologist. All is great until the student starts becoming better than the Professor, who won't let him publish/ research an alternative theory. The student collapses psychologically after he fails his PhD viva and, well, reacts in a way that many found surprising.
The film has been criticised for veering off from actual fact, for being schmaltzy (Meryl Streep has quite a mumsy role in it!), and for depicting an unbelievable level of emotion that the student is going through after being stopped from continuing the research he believed in. I can't comment on the degree of realism, as I'm not familiar with the original incident, but I for one can't see the point of judging the quality of a film (exclusively) according to how realistic it is. I agree that there were a few scenes that came across as a bit too sentimental, but overall the film worked well and was perfectly convincing. Having been through an eerily similar experience with a PhD supervisor myself, I can testify that a student can go through absolute emotional hell when something like this happens. Thankfully, my family's solid support helped me get over the situation with no tragic consequences, which wasn't the case for the main character in this film. (His family were working in abysmal conditions in China, having only his letters to keep their morale up.)
There's a lot of symbolism and clever cinematography in the film too, with sound, shape and colour contrasts all contributing actively to the story. Perhaps the characters and the plot are a bit mono-dimensional, but in my opinion that doesn't stop this from being a brilliant, albeit gut-wrenching, film.