Review: You are the Apple of My Eye

Apparently it is movie week here at Lost Laowai, because I have another recent Chinese flick to review. In an effort to help learn Chinese I always ask my students about good recent movies. Let’s be honest, most Chinese movies us foreigners hear about are either political or kung-fu based. However, I’m interested in the other movies; the comedies, the teen movies, the things my students relax with at night. I’m not looking for The Last Emperor, but rather Teen Witch or something similar.

So I paid attention when a number of students started talking about a new movie called You are the Apple of My Eye (Chinese title: 那些年,我们一起追的女孩) It’s a new movie, released in 2011, from Taiwan director Giddens Ko who has a badass pen name: 九把刀. It has been a major hit in Taiwan and Hong Kong, breaking all sorts of box office records (including one which was previously held by Kung Fu Hustle) but has not yet been released in mainland China.

“If you want to understand what Chinese high school was like, then you should watch this movie,” my best friend told me. The movie is about a group of high school kids navigating school, life and falling in love. It’s a pretty typical story, slacker boy meets high achieving girl. They hate each other at first, but he saves her one day from humiliation in class (and takes the punishment himself) and afterwards she takes him on as a project, insisting he work harder and study more. Of course the two fall in love, but then life, and emotions, gets in the way. The movie ends several years after college and has, not quite a happy ending, but a happy-ish ending.

It’s a typical coming-of-age story but done so well even I was feeling nostalgic for my youth (despite it being totally different than the movie). The acting is great (just ignore the fact the high school girl is played by a 26-year-old) and the characters, setting and writing is top notch. I watched it with horrible English subtitles, and I still got really immersed into the film so obviously something was done right. It is even quite funny at times.

I’m not sure I’ll ever really understand Chinese youth culture, especially what high school was like for these kids, but I like trying. And I like watching a cute, fun, romantic Chinese film. So I would definitely recommend this film.

Also, what about you? Do you have any good Chinese teen dramas to recommend?

Trailer for You are the Apple of My Eye