Monday, November 11, 2019

Review: Better Days

Release date: October 25, 2019
Running time: 135 minutes
Starring: Dongyu Zhou, Jackson Yee, Fang Yin

Better Days is a powerful Chinese film dealing with bullying, childhood pressures, trying to rise above your station, and the intense need to succeed that some youth experience.  The film focuses on a young Chinese student about to take the Gaokao, a national Chinese college entrance exam that determines what university someone will go to, and by extension what kind of life they can have.  In it, young Chen Nien (Zhou) struggles to study and prepare for the Gaokao, while also dealing with a host of problems that shouldn't be on her plate, such as being bullied, having to take care of the household alone, and dealing with the mistakes of her mom.  However, she is soon helped along this journey by a chance encounter with an unexpected street thug Xiao Bei (Yee).  

Better Days biggest strength is the powerful performances by its young stars.  Zhou and Yee propel this emotional story forward with their strong acting.  Zhou starts off rigid, but towards the end she really shows her strength as an actor; she is refreshing and I can't wait to see what else she does.  Yee is also challenged as a street thug with a much deeper understanding of life than he lets on.  They are a treat to watch and really the driving force behind this emotional story.  And the chemistry that they exhibit really drives the story forward.  The rest of the characters are perfectly cast and they really contribute to the emotional effect that the story has on you. 

And the story of Better Days is an important one.  The bullying and ordeals that some of these kids endure is hard to watch at time, but important to show.  As more and more pressure is being placed on children to succeed, the story of Better Days and the bullying that Zhou faced is even more crucial to showcase.  The film is an emotional roller coaster with many lows and a very few highs.  The story progresses slowly, but it gives you a chance to really dig into the characters and their emotional journey.  I was never bored with this film, I simply wanted to see what happened next. 

Better Days is a powerful film that tackles intense, emotional subjects.  It has strong performances, a heart wrenching story, and shows some of the darker aspects of human nature and our society.  

Watch it

No comments:

Post a Comment