I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t enjoy watching movies and TV shows. I was a little bit of a purist, preferring physically going to the cinema to watch a movie or lounging at home in front of a television screen hooked up to good old cable TV. So admittedly, Netflix wasn’t a bandwagon I could join too easily. In fact, I was just able to experience the whole “Netflix and chill” thing a couple of weeks ago. However, since there are things now such as Netflix Originals, I started to feel that I was missing out on some good stuff.
Last week, when I was scanning through recommended shows, the home page happened to be playing the trailer for this upcoming Chinese film that would premiere June 22nd which Netflix was going to bring worldwide after purchasing multi-territory rights to the film.
Us and Them is a record-breaking Chinese movie by first-time female director, René Liu. It stars Jing Boran and Zhou Dongyu as the leads with intertwined lives, their story spanning over ten years. Albeit this film being her debut as a director, co-workers say that it didn’t seem like it at all, making her a master of creation as she is also known as a singer, songwriter, actress, and writer. Despite the film being surrounded by controversy regarding ticket sales and refunds, the success of the film thus far still makes René Liu the first female director to gross more than 1 billion Yuan.
First of all, the trailer already blew me away. It showed how the film had the vibe or appeal of a quality independent movie. The scenery showcased in the movie was China in winter which provided a unique portrayal of magnificent cinematography. It was just the trailer I saw, but I already had a feeling that the film would be visually beautiful.
Today being a Saturday, I woke up late after a long work week and committed to sitting myself down and watching this movie with my full attention and boy, did this movie make me feel things.
If you were to see the poster and the trailer for the film, it may make you think that it’s just another love story or it’s just another drama, but after seeing it I can attest that it’s much, much more.
The story begins with the chance meeting of two strangers on the train on the way home to from Beijing to their province for the Chinese New Year. As they spark a unique connection, they become good friends and depend on each other even as they return to the hustle of making a living and a building a future for themselves back in Beijing. Through various ups and downs and along with all the pressures of making it in a competitive world, their relationship grows as time passes by and teaches them bigger, harder, deeper, and greater life lessons.
The film is first and foremost about love: love for family, love for tradition, love for yourself, love for your partner. As a young adult myself, I couldn’t help but relate to the pressure of having to work and the need to find what you’re good at and what you can make money out of in order to build a future for yourself. Sometimes in the buzz of the list of things that we have to check off on our to-do list on a daily basis, we forget about more important things like showing love for our family or showing up on the holidays to have a meal together. We even forget about loving ourselves and take swallow our pride even when we shouldn’t. The film shows us more than one type of love. It shows us a story of love that stays through time and love that is not limited to labels and convenience.
The film is about growing up. It also showcases the difficulties and responsibilities added to your plate as time passes by. The journey of the two leads, Jianqing and Xiaoxiao, both together and apart, really showcases the bumps, the highs, the lows, and the plateaus of growing up and becoming your own person. It also shares how growing up means taking things with a grain of salt and learning to accept the difference among what you want, what could be, what should be, and what is.
The film is about saying you’re sorry. As the clicheé goes, we all make mistakes and with Us and Them, apologizing and coming to terms with mistakes is shown as a part of growing up. It also shows us how there are many ways to say you’re sorry, but regardless of the how, what’s important is that you do so that you don’t have regrets in the end.
Overall, the film gave me a whole new appreciation for Asian production and made me realize that I could and should pay more attention to the Asian presence in the big screen. I admit that the film did hurt as expected, but it hurt in the right places. I highly recommend this film and I give it a 9/10. I definitely don’t regret watching to and waiting for it’s Netflix premiere was worth the wait.
Check out the film’s trailer below:
What do you think about this post? I’d love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments!