My adventures in in-flight entertainment can be pretty random.
After all, I’m a captive audience with a limited array of shows to choose from, and honestly, I just want something to watch while I eat my (usually unexciting) in-flight meal. This means that In-flight Me sometimes has a pretty different show selection process than Non In-flight Me.
Today, In-flight Me had a Single, Completely Frivolous reason for checking out this show. Simply, Wallace Huo is in it, and I’ve been told by people in the know, that I would absolutely fall in love with Wallace Huo once I saw him on my screen.
So did In-flight Me’s selection process pay off this time?
Well.. sorta. The in-flight meal was even more unappetizing than usual, but the movie was actually quite a bit more enjoyable than I’d expected.
STUFF I LIKED
1. Wallace Huo is handsome
It’s true; Wallace Huo is a very handsome man, and I very much enjoyed his manly, rather rugged screen presence. Mmm. Lovely.
I didn’t love his character as much, but I found it easy to believe how a 24-year-old smitten guy would change into a 34-year-old man who’s laser-focused on work and tired-jaded with his relationship.
2. Darren Wang is handsome too
Squee! I’d loved-love-loved Darren Wang in Our Times, and was completely delighted when he showed up unexpectedly on my screen today. Talk about a handsome bonus, heh.
Granted, the fact that he plays a bit of a gangster rogue in this, feels like an echo of his teen troublemaker character in Our Times. But he exudes so much bad-boy charm that I can’t really complain. Plus, I love his crooked grin!
3. Ni Ni as Liang Xia
I’m still relatively new to the world of Chinese shows, so this was my introduction to Ni Ni.
I very much enjoyed her versatility in portraying the dual roles of Liang Xia’s older and younger selves. Her delivery of the sassy, outspoken, reckless 17-year-old contrasted very well with her portrayal of the insecure, withdrawn, cautious 28-year-old.
Very nicely done indeed. Plus, she’s so beautiful too, in a timeless, Shu Qi-esque sort of way. I found myself easily engaging with our protagonist, and rooting for her all the way.
4. The theme of re-discovering lost mojo
I really enjoyed the idea of 28-year-old Liang Xia finding her mojo again, while being led by her 17-year-old self.
So often, we see articles like “10 things I would tell my 18-year-old self” – and those are typically filled with advice from a more experienced, mature perspective.
This is the complete opposite, and I love it. I love flipping the lens around, and forcing a response to the question of whether we are able to live up to the dreams and expectations of our younger selves.
I found it a thought-provoking question: what would Younger Me think of Current Me? Would Younger Me approve of the choices I made? Would Younger Me make the same choices, given the chance to do it all over again?
One of my favorite parts of the movie, is when 17-year-old Liang Xia uses her conscious body-time to teach 28-year-old Liang Xia how to paint again.
I love that 17-year-old Liang Xia is the one who calls the shots; she tells her older self not to be a lazy pig; she tells her she needs to paint again; she even leaves videos demonstrating how.
Considering how she had started out using her body-time primarily to go on dates with Yan Yan (Darren Wang), and prank her older self on the side, this is Huge Progress, and I LOVE IT. <3
STUFF I LIKED LESS
The almost absolute separation of Liang Xia’s two selves
Generally speaking, I found it a bit of a stretch that 28-year-old Liang Xia would forget to paint in such a complete manner.
I mean, yes, she hasn’t painted in 11 years, but can someone who’s a natural talent actually forget how to paint to the extent that she’d turn out childish-looking blobs on canvas? I found this pretty hard to believe.
[SPOILERS THROUGH THE END OF THE REVIEW]
On a deeper note, I was expecting the movie to eventually mesh Liang Xia’s 17-year-old brand of fresh, bold sassy with her 28-year-old self’s maturity and composure, so that she’d come out of this experience possessing the best of both worlds. In my mind, that would’ve been the happy ending that I would’ve written, if I was writing this story.
But, Show decided to go in a different direction, with 28-year-old Liang Xia basically bidding farewell to her 17-year-old self in a sad, watery, metaphorical sequence, with 17-year-old Liang Xia saying in a bittersweet voiceover that she didn’t have a place in this world, but that it had all been worth it.
I didn’t like that much at all.
I mean, Show does end on a poignant note where we get a silent written message onscreen, presumably from 17-year-old Liang Xia to her 28-year-old self, that she’s never left and is always there.
But after making a big deal of their watery separation, I found this assurance a touch hollow and unconvincing.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING
The well-trained romantic in me kind of looked for signs of Liang Xia’s romantic happy-ever-after, almost as a reflex.
I wasn’t sure where Show would take this. Would she reconcile with Mao Liang (Wallace Huo), now that he’s learned to see her in a brand new light? Would she find romance with Yan Yan? Would she meet someone else?
I’m SO glad that Show chose none of these options. Liang Xia not only reclaims her talent and passion for art and the pursuit of it, she also reclaims the confidence in herself that she had lost while waiting in the shadows for Mao Liang all those years.
I freaking love that in the end, Liang Xia’s happy ending has nothing to do with finding romance, and everything to do with finding herself.
Mao Liang running nekkid in the streets, in a hopeful(ly vain) attempt to win her love all over again, is just icing on the cake.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Engaging, and even a little bit empowering.
FINAL GRADE: B+