Shout-out to manukajoe, who was the one who put this movie on my radar.
He said that this one was breezy and enjoyable, and now that I’ve watched it for myself, I do concur that it’s a solid spend of an hour and 55 minutes of your drama hours.
Plus, Leo Wu is so very endearing in this. 🤩
Psst: Link to watch is at the end of the review.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Chen Chen (Zhang Zi Feng) fails her college entrance exams, and tells her parents a lie that ends up implicating fellow student, free-spirited Zheng Yu Xin (Leo Wu) in her life.
As the lie grows, so does the bond between Yu Xin and Chen Chen.
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS
Here are a few things to keep in mind, that I think would help to maximize your enjoyment of your watch:
1. Show has an undercurrent of pathos, underneath its breezy veneer.
It’s true that Show is breezy a lot of the time, and also, quite funny. I found myself chuckling out loud several times during my watch, which is a great sign that Show’s sense of humor works for me.
On the other hand, I feel it would be remiss of me not to mention upfront, that not everything’s easy-breezy in our story world, and that there are distinct spots of pathos in our narrative.
I did feel that it all fit together organically, and that the melancholy isn’t injected just for the sake of making a statement.
It made sense to me, in the context of our characters’ journeys, and that’s the most important thing.
2. This is more of a coming-of-age story, rather than a romance.
Although the premise and the trailer might have you thinking otherwise, I also think it would be helpful to let you know upfront, that this isn’t designed to be a romance, even though our characters experience romantic inclinations and talk about romantic relationships.
This is more of a coming-of-age tale, for our two protagonists.
I do think that keeping that in mind, would make this watch more enjoyable for you.
STUFF I LIKED
Leo Wu as Zheng Yu Xin
I have such a strong impression of Leo Wu’s role as young and adorable Fei Liu in Nirvana in Fire (review is here, and Open Threads are listed here), that I still find it rather trippy to see him in more recent, more grown-up roles.
Without getting into spoilers, I just wanted to say that I really, really liked Zheng Yu Xin, our good-natured, free-spirited male protagonist.
He’s got all these shades of personality to him. He’s easygoing and cheeky; he’s also honest and straightforward; plus he’s got flashes of swag, while managing to be slightly dorky, especially when it comes to his good looks.
I found him altogether really, really likable, and I can totally see why he’d have a bit of a fan club, among the girls at school.
At the same time, when the occasion calls for it, Leo Wu imparts these layers of angst and emotion, that we see so well, even though, most of the time, Zheng Yu Xin only shows us glimpses of his inner self, for mere seconds at a time.
Zheng Yu Xin won my heart very quickly into my watch, and I found myself wanting only good things, for this bright spark of youth, that’s so full of life.
Zhang Zi Feng as Chen Chen
Chen Chen is a more introverted character compared to Zheng Yu Xin, but I found her easy to relate to, nonetheless.
The way she feels socially awkward and sometimes doesn’t know what to say; the way she works to bottle up her feelings about her family problems; the way she works to shrink and stay small, so as not to draw attention to herself.
All of these things feel relatable to me, like my teenaged self would have done any or all of these things, in Chen Chen’s position.
The growing bond between Yu Xin and Chen Chen
I didn’t realize this until after my watch of the movie, but Leo Wu and Zhang Zi Feng have acted together before, in 2019 movie, Adoring (which I do recommend, if you like animals &/or holiday-type omnibus movies).
Maybe that’s part of the reason they spark off each other so naturally, in this show.
I really enjoyed the growing bond between Zheng Yu Xin and Chen Chen, over the course of our story. This was THE highlight of my watch.
First of all, I have a huge soft spot for contract relationships of any kind, so when Zheng Yu Xin and Chen Chen find themselves in a contract relationship of sorts, thanks to Chen Chen’s lie to her parents, I felt rather thrilled.
Like I mentioned earlier, however, the bond between these two turns out to be more platonic than anything else, which is very heartening and pleasant too, as long as you’re not dead set on romance.
I really liked the fact that the moment Chen Chen sees Zheng Yu Xin’s pain, she works to overcome her own awkwardness, to reach out and connect with him. That desire to be there for him, even though they technically don’t know each other, is pretty sweet.
The more secrets Chen Chen and Zheng Yu Xin share with each other, the stronger their bond feels, to my eyes, and it just feels quite precious, that they can confide in each other, where before, they both didn’t have anyone with whom to share their innermost thoughts.
It’s also cute how they become desk-mates, and how Zheng Yu Xin introduces Chen Chen to his favorite techno music.
The fact that they spend personal time together, with Zheng Yu Xin even wanting to celebrate Chen Chen’s birthday for her, is sweet, and makes me want their friendship to go on forever.
Liu Dan as Teacher Qu
Teacher Qu is a small-ish secondary character, but because I’d so recently watched Liu Dan as a very different character in the very excellent Reset, I just wanted to give her a quick shout-out.
I rather liked Teacher Qu and her naggy ways. Even though she’s strict, I do think that she cares about her students.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
Somewhere along the way, I somehow picked up on the idea that the person that Zheng Yu Xin’s been pining for, might be male instead of female.
(In Chinese, the word for ‘he’ and ‘she’ are homonyms, even though they are written differently. This makes it easy for Zheng Yu Xin to be honest about his feelings towards Ming, even while his words pass easily as him talking about a woman.)
That said, I don’t think that that’s the main point of our story.
The pain and angst of coming to terms with the fact that the person they like, doesn’t like them back, is something that both Chen Chen and Zheng Yu Xin have to go through; it’s part of growing up.
I love that beat where Chen Chen makes that earnest birthday wish, while clasping Yu Xin’s hand in her own, that they will both be able to face themselves more honestly, and become stronger and braver.
It’s such a heartfelt, needful, perfect wish, and as Chen Chen makes that wish on both of their behalves, I find myself agreeing with that wish for them as well.
Even though they make that spontaneous trip without the permission of their parents, I do feel like that trip is an important milestone in their journey towards being stronger, and more honest with themselves.
It’s during this trip, that Yu Xin decides that he will work to put Ming behind him, and not continue to fixate on the fact that Ming doesn’t like him anymore. And it’s also during this trip, that he lets Chen Chen in on his secret, that Ming isn’t female, but male.
It feels fitting, that Chen Chen also opens up, and tells Yu Xin that she’s liked him for a long time, since junior year.
Augh. The way Yu Xin leans in to kiss Chen Chen, then tell her sincerely, that he wishes that he could like her back, is so bittersweet. 😭💔
That solidarity, where they realize that they both are going through the same heartache, feels so palpable, in this moment.
The fallout from their trip is huge, though, and I do hate that both Yu Xin and Chen Chen end up having to pay such a high price, for a trip that had ended up being so pivotal in both their lives.
I also hate that the adults had all ganged up to put the blame on Yu Xin. I’m glad that Chen Chen puts her foot down, and insists on paying her own price, for her own wrongdoing.
I honestly find it so sad, that Yu Xin and Chen Chen end up being separated in a big way, after this incident. And, I’m also gutted that Yu Xin’s hearing becomes impaired, from the blow that he suffers from his father. 😭
But, I’m glad to see that, 3 years later, Chen Chen, now back on the college academic track despite dropping out of high school, is back at the music festival in Sanya, to witness Yu Xin DJ-ing on the big stage, like he’d always dreamed of doing.
It feels like they’ve both come such a long way, in the 3 years that have passed.
Even though I’m disappointed that their friendship seems to have been cut short, I appreciate the idea that theirs was a bond that was special and important, for a special and important season.
They were there for each other, when they needed each other the most. And just as importantly, they shaped each other’s lives in irrevocable ways, and together made memories that will last them a lifetime. ❤️
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Breezy, with touches of pathos. Ultimately uplifting.
FINAL GRADE: B+
WHERE TO WATCH:
You can check out this movie on Netflix.
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