S aya very sorry, sorry why a new idea about the film Better Days a few days ago. I rarely look at Chinese films, unless it's really booming like Our Times, I mostly enjoy television dramas. I also found out about this film by accident, when scrolling the timeline, one of the mandarinfess senders wrote an excerpt from this film. I was curious, I found out and immediately watched the film, even twice! Even though Better Days managed to penetrate the Oscars as Asia's representative for the Best International Feature Film nomination.
It's not often talked about like Minari or Chloe Zhao, the director from China who won best director in the same year, I really missed Better Days. Better Days is the third Hong Kong film to win an Academy Award/Oscar after years of absence, most recently with the 90s films Farewell My Concubine (1993) and Raise the Red Lantern (1991).
Better Days was a hit when it premiered and received a good response from critics. It has a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, 8.4 on Douban, and 9.1 on My Drama List. Not only that, at the 39th Hong Kong Film Awards, Better Days won eight nominations and several of them came out as champions for; Best Director, Best film, Best New Performer (Jackson Yee), Best Actress (Zhou Dongyu).
One of the pieces of dialogue that made me move to watch this film. Magic sentence in this film. Better Days carries the romantic crime-thriller genre. The plot is quite simple, an exemplary student who is a victim of bullying meets a street thug, their relationship will eventually lead to a murder case.
Chen Nian (Zhou Dongyu) is one of the smartest students in school, because a transfer student he doesn't have many friends, he just focuses on studying, getting a score of over 600 for the Gaokao exam, China's national college entrance exam. One of the few friends he knows is Hu Xiao Die (Zhang Xi Fan). How surprised when there was a furore that one of the students committed suicide by jumping from the top of the building was Xia Die, the person who was with him lifting the drink bottle.
When everyone was just watching, taking pictures and even filming the body, Chen Nian was the only person who approached and covered him with a jacket. However, his bold actions made him the next target of bullying. Everyone closed their eyes, Chen Nian felt what Xiao Die had been through, that no one wanted to help him. When there was a liquid like blood on his chair, everyone was silent, when the information about his mother selling illegal masks spread, everyone laughed at him. When he was intercepted on his way home by Wei Lai (Zhou Ye) and his friends, Chen Nian was still able to hold on. The climax was when he was pushed off the stairs, Chen Nian's patience was exhausted.
He finally reports to Zheng Yi (Yin Fang), a police officer who used to interrogate him during the Xiao Die suicide case. On this occasion, Chen Nian reported everything, that the reason Xiao Die died was because he was bullied, and now he is the victim. Due to the reason that they were already in 12th grade and were about to take the gaokao, the only punishment that Wei Lai and his friends got was in the form of suspension and their homeroom teacher being fired.
The punishment certainly did not deter them, they were angry and more cruelly oppressed Chen Nian. Out of fear, Chen Nian asks the street thugs he used to help when he was being ganged up by other thugs, Xiao Bei or Liu Bei Shan (Jackson Yee). For a while Xiao Bei's threat to Wei Lai was quite strong, Chen Nian was protected for some time, he became focused on studying, his life was peaceful again and he felt safe when he lived with Xiao Bei.
However, Chen Nian wasn't always protected by Xiao Bei. When there was a rape case, Xiao Bei and his friends were interrogated at the police station, could not be contacted until the next day. Chen Nian stays in school but when he comes home he is intercepted by Wei Lai and his friends. Not only was he beaten, his notebook was torn, his hair was cut, he was almost stripped naked. When Xiao Bei couldn't contact Chan Nian and when he came home to see his pathetic condition, Xiao Bei was furious and wanted to go to Wei Lai to reward him but Chen Nian was prevented from doing so. He didn't want to add to the trouble, he could endure it, he just wanted to pass the gaokao exam, he wanted to focus on studying.
On the day of the gaokao exam, a test full of tension for students and hope for parents, it rained heavily since last night and caused an avalanche. In the middle of the avalanche, the body of a woman was found. After being identified, the victim was Wei Lai. Because he has a strong motive and does not have an alibi, the main suspect in the murder case is Chen Nian.
From the first time the story begins, we will be treated to a gloomy, dark and sad aura. At first it was slow enough to build conflict, then quickly rolled over when the two main characters met, a little sugar, then when the conflict broke out, the tension began to increase, the aura became tense, mysterious and ended sadly. Technically I'm not good at discussing this, it's just that I like the way the picture is taken, the editing is like cutting it into important parts, then pasting it into another scene, which in the end will create a plot twist. The cinematography doesn't need to be debated, Better Days also won the Best Cinematography at the Hong Kong Film Award, as well as the Best Original Film Song for the song Fly which reverberates at the end of the film. However, my favorite song by JJ Lin, We Are Well.
My favorite scene of course is when Chen Nian and Xiao Bei are together, when Xiao Bei is tailing Chen Nian from behind, watching and protecting him. Not many words were spoken from them to strengthen their romantic relationship, no hot scenes to show their feelings. Just from the look in their eyes and facial expressions, we can tell how much they feel for each other. In fact, the development of their relationship is shown through a scene that is quite fast in the middle of the film, but the emotions are very strong. The acting of the two main characters does not have any medicine.
Although this film is a teen film, the two main characters are quite mature. Zhou Dongyu who is almost 30 years old here looks so cute, still suitable to be a schoolboy. While Jackson Yee is still young, born in 2000 but his acting talent is extraordinary. He is also a member of TFBoys, has been in the entertainment world since childhood, no wonder at his age now he is perched in first place for two years in a row for Tops Forbes China's Celebrity List (2020 and 2021).
I've never watched another film of the two main characters, even though I'm not familiar with them even though in the last few years I've watched a lot of c-dramas. Except for Zhou Dongyu, when I first watched it, I felt familiar, it turns out that he was the one playing in Ancient Love Poetry, because it was starring in Xu Kai, I was so excited. In the past, I wanted to watch Us and Them, which he also starred in, but couldn't see the ending. As for Jackson Yee, a famous drama that I wanted to try was The Longest Day in Chang'an. They are more successful in films than dramas, because most of their dramas are not my cup of tea, that's why they are just getting married now.
There were two scenes that left quite an impression on me, first when a senior police officer told Zheng Yi that he was serious about dealing with bullying cases. His senior said that bullying cases in schools were quite complicated, they couldn't file charges without solid evidence. The Ministry of Education will always intervene, bullying cases are considered normal in schools. Because cases occur in schools, it does not mean the school is responsible, the principal will blame the teacher, the teacher will blame the parents, while parents will dodge not having time to always supervise their children because they are busy with work.
It is quite interesting, because fighting bullying requires cooperation from various parties. As friends, for example, we should not be ignored, immediately report when we see a friend being bullied. The lack of parental roles is also inserted here. For example, from Wei Lai's point of view, why is he a bully. Coming from a rich family but a broken home, he has not spoken to his father for a year, he may be required to always be perfect, to the point of venting to weak friends.
While Chen Nian himself was often alone at home, his mother always went to work out of town, he knew his family was poor and didn't want to add to his mother's burden. So when he was bullied he kept quiet and told his mother that he just trusted her. By getting good grades and successfully getting into university, Chen Nian believes his life will be better. He is not a weak person, his actions were correct when he reported to the police. It's just that because they consider bullying cases to be light and the school gives them a chance without serious punishment, they are getting worse. Chen Nian can no longer trust them, he prefers to rely on Xiao Bei, a street thug who selflessly helps.
Better Days can be an example of correction if bullying cases if not handled seriously can have very fatal consequences, can lead to death. At the end of the film, we will find information that the Chinese government is very concerned about violence in schools, and does not even hesitate to give severe punishments to teenagers who are involved in bullying cases. It also initiates the implementation of the school safety plan. That it takes all parties to fight bullying, schools are indeed at the forefront, but it will not run without the role of everyone, be it teachers, parents, friends, society and the law. Things that should apply here or anywhere else.
The second memorable scene is when Zheng Yi asks Chen Nian how does it feel to be an adult? Besides the two main characters, Zheng Yi is my other favorite character. He is one of the few policemen who take bullying cases seriously, from the start he was serious about handling it, but he didn't work alone, there were many rules that made him unable to do anything. But he seriously wanted to help Chen Nian. Many regrets we do when we are young, one of the aspects that makes us mature.
Better Days is adapted from Jiu Yue Xi's young adult novel, In His Youth, In Her Beauty. Yep, this is one of the reasons why I immediately found out about the film and immediately watched it when I found out it was about teenagers, especially bullying. When it comes to young adult novels, I am really interested in the theme of mental illness, such as bullying/bullying, a type of story that must be read by many people. I hope there is a publisher who will translate, I really want to read the novel version, pleaseeeeeee.
I recommend Better Days wholeheartedly, I will never get tired of watching it over and over again, one of the types of films that many people have to watch!
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