The transitions between eras in the non-linear narration were really subtle and I felt that I needed to put the pieces of the puzzle together to understand what the hell was going on. Overall I liked the tenderness and delicacy of the narration. The only issue is that it's quite long (3h) and slow, and I wasn't absorbed 100% in it, so my focus had ups and downs. Fortunately the final act (when the parents return visiting their old city) is really poignant, especially because of all the plot points achieving a resolution, which ends the watching with a warm sense of contentment.
One interesting aspect of this movie is that it was validated by China's propaganda department (and even won awards from China), even through it doesn't exactly shed a favorable light to China's policies, most notably the one-child policy. One explanation I can imagine is that the movie focuses on the human impact of such policies rather than on the ideological side of things; those circumstances are seen as rules that shape the lives of individuals, which can be lamented, but which aren't really meant to be questioned, as rebellion against them will only bring more drama.