HIFF Review: ‘So Young’

Oct. 10, 2013 | 0 Comments

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REVIEW BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Those who remember their college years as the best time of their life have probably forgotten half their life story.


Spotlight on China

Hawaii Premiere

Screens at 9 p.m. Oct. 11 at Consolidated Koko Marina 8 and 7:15 p.m. Oct. 18 at Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18


“So Young,” the directorial debut by actress Zhao Wei, reminds us of the bittersweet trials of young adulthood, the pain of first love and the difficulty of negotiating a world infinitely more complex than the black-and-white of childhood.

Adapted from Xin Yiwu’s best-selling novel, the film follows Zheng Wei—a spoiled, impetuous “princess,” resulting from China’s one-child policy—as she moves from her small town into the calamitous setting of a university boarding house where she reacts badly to the idea of contending with students prettier, richer, smarter and more ambitious than herself.

Ruan Guan, with her perfect features and perfect boyfriend, is the roommate she and her friends envy, and Chen Xiaozheng is the poor architecture student with whom she develops a love-hate relationship, while being pursued by rich boy Xu Kaiyang, who is also ill-prepared for rejection.

In catching up with the characters seven years after college, the film shows the impact of choices made at a time they were not quite adult enough to weigh the consequences.

As played by Zishan Yang, Zheng Wei is the lead as annoying to the audience as well as her would-be beau, which makes her emergence as a strong, level-headed woman toward film’s end a remarkable acting feat. It’s a journey that would be impossible without a lot of bumps, bruises and sorrow en route.
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