Movie Review: Teen Angsty “Our Times”

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Our Times 我的少女时代 is a 2015 romantic comedy by  Director Frankie Chen.  It is directorial debut of Director Chen who previously directed Taiwan hit television romantic dramas, Fated to Love You and Prince Turns into FrogAt the Dolphin Bay, My MVP Valentine, Westside Story, Mr Fighting, Queen of No Marriage and Autumn’s Concerto.

Her debut film  follows the current trend  films set in the 1980’s in Asian dramas (think of the recent Reply 1977, Signals, 1989).  It features bad hair, high-waisted acid-wash jeans 

The film begins in the present day, where an ordinary office lady  Truly Lin (Vivian Sung) gets mocked behind her back by her subordinates.  She goes home  to listens to the song “Wang Qing Shui”, an old tune of Andy Lau, a biggest idol star in Canto pop back in the eightees and ninetees.  The melancholic song slowly brings Truly Lin back to her teenage years, as a plain high school girl.

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Truly, along with a throng of other girls has a crush on Ou Yang Fei Fan (Dino Li), the school’s model student heartthrob. One day, Truly Lin receives a scary chain letter, warning her of impending doom if she does not pass the message on. The mention of chain letters brings back a lot of memories. Ha! Did you ever respond to those? 

Now panic stricken, Truly Lin begins to plot who she will add on her list of curse recipients – Her math teacher;  Tao Min-min (Dewi Chien),  the school’s most popular girl, and Xu Tai Yu (Darren Wang), the school’s notorious gangster boss.  Earlier in the movie, Truly Lin witnessed Xu Tai Yu trying to bully her crush and decided he deserves to receive the “cursed” chain letter.

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Tai-yu  smiles as he read the letter thinking at first that it was from secret admirer.  He quickly learns it wasn’t a love letter. Too shocked and distracted while reading it, he got ran over by car in the middle small street. After weeding out the letter’s sender, the angry Tai Yu made Truly Lin his ‘friend’ and forced her to run errands for him in exchange for leaving Ou Yang Fei Fan alone, thus making her his errand-girl.

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The two overhears a conversation between Tao Min-min and Ou Yang Fei Fan and discovers that they are in a secret relationship. Truly Lin and Xu Tai Yu , who likes Tao Min-min, forms an alliance in mission to break them up.  In the process of scheming and plotting, the two got to know each other at much deeper level and developed feelings for each other.  Truly Lin learns why Xu Tai Yu is always rebelling and convinces him to care more for himself and take his studies more seriously which later bares very impressive grades.   But he later discovers of his brain clot, caused by the earlier car accident.  Without much of a good bye, he disappears from her life and school. Truly Lin finds out a little later of what happened through Ou Yang Fei Fan. Xu Tai Yu’s  parents decided to send him overseas and this left Truly Lin of no way to contact him, before the era of email or social media.

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18 years later, the grown up Truly Lin portrayed by Joie Chen,  leaves her non-fulfilling job and relationship and still, she is unable to book ticket to see Andy Lau’s live in concert in Taipei. But in Asian movie land-like manner, Truly Lin runs into her idol, Andy Lau who snuck out for a quick coffee break. That’s like my dream situation!!!   Sympathetic to an avid fan, Andy offers her free tickets to this sold out concert and gave Truly Lin a staff member’s number to call, which turns out to be Xu Tai Yu, played by Jerry Yan.

Why I Liked This Movie. I really enjoyed this movie because it resonates a lot to me personally.  I was a HUGE Andy Lau fan back in high school.  ANDY LAU was undoubtedly a significant part of my happy high school memories. My books, notebooks and pencil case were covered with his pictures. Just like TRULY in the movie, I would go to stationery stores wanting to buy anything that had ANDY LAU’s picture. The fandom was real.

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Director Frankie Chen also directed many  Taiwan dramas that I enjoyed.  In Our Times, she was very convincing at depicting the life of young people from that generation. Aside from Andy Lau tunes,  she also added songs by MC Hammer and former Hong Kong boyband group, Grasshopper 草猛 which really added fun to the movie.    Although story plot itself was nothing out of the ordinary  and quite predictable, the actors did a superb job at bringing life to the characters which makes it a must see in my book. My favorite scenes were when both Tai-yu  and Truly walked home one night after hanging out together, both came up with excuses to see each other again unaware that the other has feelings for them. My second favorite scene was when Truly fights tears  in the rain to run away and hide her disappointment upon just learning that Tai-yu and Tao Min-min. Vivian Sung and Darren Wang (who keeps reminding me of John Travolta in this movie) were cute to watch together and impressive at showing teenage angst on screen.

What  I Didn’t Like about This Movie. Although I like Joe Chen and Jerry Yan, I didn’t think having them cameo as the adult versions of Truly and Tai-yu added anything more than what the Vivian and Darren could. The original actor and actress would have pulled it off easily and bring more feels to the story, a sense of closure. I can’t help but feel the story’s climax got watered down by replacing them.  Perhaps it was purely a marketing decision to add bigger celebrity names.

 

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