Film Review: ‘My Love’ 《你的婚礼》Brings Us Gentle Romantic Comedy We’ve All Seen Before5 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
In high school, Zhou Xiaoqi fell in love with You Yongci at first sight, only for her to leave suddenly without saying goodbye. Over the next 15 years, their paths cross and diverge several times. Will their love ever be endgame?
Director: Tian Han
Cast: Greg Hsu, Ruonan Zhang, Connor Leong
Runtime: 155 minutes
Over the years, the soppy high school romantic drama has become a go-to guilty pleasure that we all turn to more often than we’d like to admit. Despite the many clichés and unrealistic scenarios we can only wish were a part of our own secondary school narratives, there is something touching and compelling about the meet-cutes, unassuming romances and the innocence of first love that gets us every time.
My Love 《你的婚礼》(2021) is a Chinese remake of a Korean romantic drama following the same premise and rough plotline. The Korean version, titled On Your Wedding Day, was released in 2018 and directed by Lee Seok-Geun, and was both a commercial and, unexpectedly, critical success. Korean media outlets praised the chemistry between the two lead actors, Park Bo-Young and Kim Young-Kwang, with Kim clinching two awards for his performance.
Tian’s 2021 remake tracks the same 15-year romance, but falls flat on its face. Albeit commercially successful, topping the Chinese box office race during the highly coveted May Day holiday weekend opening window, it fell short on the critical front, leaving critics unimpressed and earning a 5.1/10 on Douban.
The premise is simple: playful, mischievous high schooler Zhou Xiaoqi (Greg Hsu) becomes infatuated with transfer student You Yongci (Ruonan Zhang) at first sight. She quickly becomes the school belle, and Xiaoqi has to battle out her other suitors, through a series of showdowns that are sweet and endearingly ridiculous at best and downright laughable at worst, for her affection.
Arguably, these adorkable moments came across better in the Korean version than the Chinese one because the light-hearted and slapstick feel is more archetypal of Korean rom-com productions, whereas Chinese films of the same genre are better known for their bittersweet sentimentality.
Xiaoqi comes very close as the pair become virtually inseparable, but then, as fate would have it, she is forced to move away and their puppy love is abruptly cut short. He doesn’t hear from her for years until he, by a sheer stroke of luck, sees her in the background of a picture his friend took at a university campus.
Determined to find Yongci again, Xiaoqi finally decides to get his act together and study for his entrance exams, just to get into the same university as her. The two leads continue to zigzag in and out of contact — and love — with one another throughout the rest of the film.
The biggest pitfall of My Love is the overuse of rom-com tropes, becoming a patchwork with no real direction or personality of its own. It is a mishmash of everything tried and tested, yet when it comes to the delivery of its own message, it is lost and utterly confused.
The film can’t seem to figure out where the punch in its story lies, and because of that, the entire movie seems to drone on with no real purpose or direction. The plot buildup is inconsistent — melodramatic sequences attempting to pull at the heartstrings are sprinkled throughout, and by the time the film draws to a close, the final scene is only a shadow of what it was trying to be. Perhaps it’s an issue of audience expectation — but when it comes to this genre, we do expect to leave the theatre feeling slightly heartbroken.
Throughout its runtime, Xiaoqi teeters between coming very close to winning Yongci over, and then disappointing her — prompting her to break things off with him and forcing their relationship to be put on hold for a few years before the cycle restarts again.
This routine becomes a lazy attempt to build suspense for the overarching ‘will they, won’t they’. Moreover, it also serves as a way for Tian to needlessly drag out the plotline for several more years in an attempt to convince the audience that their relationship is star-crossed and heart-wrenching. The film persistently tells instead of shows. Lukewarm chemistry between the leads and poor character development on both sides fail to give breakup scenes substance, making them feel forced and unnecessary. As audiences we’re left feeling more confused than heartbroken, rolling our eyes instead of dabbing them dry.
It’s a pity that the film’s storytelling falls short — several other elements are commendable, to say the least. The cinematography and music are two exceptional standouts: shots are cleverly framed to capture the characters in their space in a way that conveys mood, and the soundtrack teases out our emotions when the story can’t. The insertion of Michael Wong’s Mandopop anthem《童话》 (“Fairy Tale”) at one heartwarming moment undoubtedly left audiences who grew up with the song particularly touched.
My Love missteps in terms of storytelling and development, leaving so much untapped potential behind that it’s frustrating. It is, nevertheless, an easy and enjoyable watch, great if all you’re looking for is charm and good vibes amidst CB2.0.
Catch My Love, now showing in theatres islandwide.