Based on a true story that happened at the University of Iowa in 1991. Ambitious Chinese student Xing Liu (Liu) is honored to be studying for his PhD in America, especially when he becomes the protege of cosmology prof Jacob Reiser (Quinn). However, when Liu challenges Reiser's own ideas about dark matter, he's betrayed by school politics and it leads him to violence. Streep plays a university patron enamored of Chinese culture. Structured in five acts in accordance to the five elements of energy in Chinese philosophy.