Saturday, November 14, 2015

Our Times (我的少女時代)

Our Times (我的少女時代)
Our Times (我的少女時代)
This movie is simple and sweet, perfect for taking out that tissue box and wiping a tear or two. The plot is (a little too) idealistic and a tad cliché but it still makes for a good time: there are touching (tear-jerking) moments, sweet moments (that make you go awww… or just think that it is sappy) and hilarious moments (that make you laugh till your stomach hurts). 

Sypnosis (and yes… some spoilers... perhaps)

This story is about a girl called Lin Truly, who is played by Vivian Sung as the high school girl version and Chen Qiao En as the adult version. We are first introduced to the adult truly (sounds much better in Chinese). She struts her way trumpihly into the office having clinched an (apparently) big deal and spots a diamond ring on her hand. Everyone crowds around her and congratulates her. Seeing this, you would thing that Truly is a success career woman who has both the career and love of her life. But that façade is soon broken away as the next scene depicts Truly struggling to finish her never ending work.

We soon realize that Truly is actually taken advantage of by her boss and made to overwork without any overtime pay. All the deals that she has clinched are not rewarded according to the hard work she puts in; often being shortchanged. Her colleagues, especially her team members (under her) while outwardly show their admiration of her work ethics and success, actually despise her like of a spine and workaholic tendencies (where they end up the collective ‘casualties’).

Just before knocking off work (and only realizing how late it is when hinted by her team members), her fiancée calls demanding to know why she is not yet at the restaurant and that he is tired of always waiting for her. He flares over the phone and gives her and demands that she better turn up in the next 5 minutes or he will leave. Truly tries to reason with him, but to no avail. Sighing, Truly packs her bag and is about to leave the office to appease her fiancée whenher boss struts in announcing that there is a meeting at midnight and that she will attend it. So she and her team better start preparing materials for the meeting.

Due to her weak character, she is constantly bossed around to work overtime and does not know how to say no. This earns the ire of her team members who are desperate to go home after a hard day at work, but because of Truly they have to work overtime until midnight.

While buying an ‘instant’ dinner at the nearby convenience shop, Truly overhears her team members criticize her and make fun of her weak character, vowing not to be like her when they grow older. This encounter sets her recalling her high school days as she narrates her story of her growing up…

This was a time before there were handphones and pagers were seen as the ‘in’ thing, along with roller skates (not blades) baggy jeans, denim jackets and long fringes for the guys. It was the era of the Four Heavenly Kings (Liu De Hua, Aaron Kwok, Jacky Cheung and Leon Lai). Every fangirl was just crazy about them. The setting itself just brings you back in time and get a feel of life back in the 80s / 90s and the realization that no matter the times, fangirls are all the same in their adoration of their idols. 

Girls being girls
As a high school student, Truly is a bumbling average looking girl who has a unrequited crush on the school’s heartthrob and genius Ouyang Extraordinary (played by Dino Lee). She is also neighbors with the school’s belle, Tao Minmin (played by Dewi Chien) and has 2 best friends. Truly is also a BIG fan of Andy Lau. Evan life-sized cutout is enough to make her short-circuit.

One day, Truly receives a chain letter that she takes very seriously and so she writes 3 chain letters to send away the ‘bad luck’. Her first recipient is a mean, grouchy teacher and her second recipient is Tao Minmin. For her final recipient, she decides that it will be the school’s troublemaker Hsu Taiyu (played by Ta Lu Wang) because she saw him making life difficult for Extraordinary.

When Extraordinary receives the chain letter, he mistakes it for a love letter and while he reads the letter (on a road with cars), a van makes a turn and knocks into him. He breaks his legs as a result and attends school the next day in a cast and crutches. His underlings are upset that someone has attempted to ‘curse’ their boss, so they set out to find the culprit which leads them to Truly.

Truly is terrified of Taiyu, who finds every opportunity to boss her around and order her to do things for him (i.e. forces her to buy for him black sesame noodles, but the sauce and the noodles must be separated etc…). Their interactions are somewhat cute as Taiyu bullies Truly doing ridiculous things for him.

Trying to get Taiyu'd order right lol
One day, he forces her to skip school and brings her to a roller skating ring(the popular hangout of bad students in those days) where he indirectly ‘throws’ her into a wall since she does not know how to skate. A fight soon ensues when a rival school gang storms the rink and fights with Taiyu because the leader does not want Taiyu to skate with his girlfriend. The fight ends when the rival gang is beaten and the leader declares that they have to go back to take an exam (lol).

This encounter leads to some disciplinary action by the school. Truly is interrogated by the discipline master to fess up to the incident and point who is the student that started the whole mess. Truly surprising does not point the finger at Taiyu and gang, but rather takes up the responsibility herself. As punishment, she has to clean the school’s swimming pool (it’s just scooping up the leaves in the water).

Whilst scooping up dead leaves at the pool, Truly overhears two familiar voices, Extraordinary and Tao Minmin. Their conversation is a little bit ambiguous (they were talking about getting caught, taking responsibility, not to worry and a baby). This sends Truly’s mind into overdrive and just as they are about the leave the locker room, a panicked and devastated Truly hides herself in the pool desperate to not get caught. She almost drowns but is saved by Taiyu. She is puzzled as to why Taiyu would at the pool and learns that he has a crush on Tao Minmin.

So together, Truly and Taiyu, work through misadventures to help each other win their dream dates. But along the way they find themselves being attracted to each other rather than their intended dates. Though they do not admit their feelings in a direct manner, they seem to understand each other but yet seem to misunderstand that the other party still likes their crushes. And so the ‘game’ continues by them helping each other get their dream dates. Through this youthful rite of passage, their friendship evolves and they learn a thing or two about true love. The process is both touching and sweet, and shows how much Truly had grown when she stood up for Taiyu when the new principle, who was prejudiced towards him - a ‘failure’ of a student, tried to find all ways and means to kick him out of school.

But alas, as with all first loves’ they do not end up together Taiyu had to go overseas for an operation: apparently since the time he get into the car accident in the beginning of the movie, his head had been hit a couple more times in fights which resulted in a blot clot that needed to be removed. His family decides to relocate as well. There was a slight misunderstanding before Taiyu left for overseas, leaving Truly upset that she misunderstood Taiyu and that she had truly liked him as much as he liked her.
From left: Taiyu, Truly, Extraordinary and Minmin
Now, we are brought to the present, where Truly sits in a park listening to a cassette (!) that Taiyu had given to her before he left, reminiscing about the past. The next day she storms into her boss’s office and throws a resignation letter on his table telling him (to his face) that she is sick and tired of his overbearing ways and that if he does not reward her according to her effort she will quit. When she comes out of the boss’s office colleagues applaud her and her team members really show their appreciated and admiration of her guts. One team member says, “I would have just sent in an email and not thought to write a letter! That was so cool!”. To which Truly replies, “Sometimes doing it by hand and personally feels more satisfying than using technology.” She walks out of the office with a vibrant smile on her face and soon breaks up with her materialistic naggy fiancée.

With the two major obstacles in her life settled, Truly attempts to buy tickets to the latest Andy Lau concert but fails to do so. She is indignant and disappoint because after being a fan all these years she still fails to be able to purchase a ticket to his concerts. But she does not let that set her back and she still goes to the venue of the concert on the day itself.
A BIG fan
There she has a chance encounter with the man himself and convinces him to not only sign an autograph for her but also take a selfie. As he writes her name, Andy Lau pauses and asks if she is going to his concert. She replies that she was not able to and he so kind heartedly gives her a number she can call to get the ticket. He stresses the fact that she must call the person and turn up for the concert, to which she joyfully agrees. That night, as she calls the number and explains the situation hoping to score that ticket she turns around and meets…. Taiyu (Jerry Yan)!!!! 

They both look at each other and smile, albeit awkward but happy to see each other. There was once that Taiyu had promised Truly that he would get Andy Lau to sing for her and now he has actually done it. Even the concert name, which I think was Truly Yours, indicates that Taiyu has never once forget Truly. They look at each other shyly and smilingly walk towards to concert theatre.


Like I mentioned at the start of this post, the plot is a little clichéd but minus that it can be somewhat heartwarming. And while I might not be able to understand the rave reviews, I will say that it was a good simple movie, at least the story and ending was much better than That Girl in Pinafore - 我的朋友,我的同学,我爱过的一切.

Unfortunately, real life is not like reel life. The minus points for me were…. Please… first loves may or may not work out but they usually do not become so good looking. Most often than not, they actually change shape as they age and make you go…, “What happened to them?!”, if you happen to bump into them a few years later (if you ever do). I am not saying all, just most of the time. And who still remembers promises made when they were young and make it a point to fulfill it especially when you have lost contact with the person you were supposed to fulfill that promise, wait on fate? lol And when you meet them years later, the awkwardness just is not there? Not to mention, the critical point of whether you can (still) recognize each other after all those years from teenage to adult hood spent separated.

I like this movie… I really do. But the pragmatism in me overwrites my enjoyment of the movie when it is all over and the movie ends. hahahaha


Post a Comment