Hey everyone, how are you all doing? I’ve been slightly busy over the past week with my part-time job (working at one of the most busiest supermarkets in the area for five days in a row saps everything out of you) so I do apologise for not being able to post over the past week. I’ve been trying to maintain a routine of posting something once a week over the past month or so, which I’ve felt is manageable and a solid routine. Sadly, I couldn’t do that last week, but I hope to make it up to you all with this review!
Today, it is a Chinese movie review, and in fact the first movie review of the year! I finished watching this movie in the cinemas just yesterday, and let’s just say that I went in not expecting much from it, despite the hype.
And, no matter how sad it is to admit this, I kinda thanked myself afterwards for that…Kris gege, I’m so sorry!! Please forgive me and let me explain myself!
So, let us discover together the reasons why, together.
Oh, by the way there is a small spoiler but don’t worry because I’ve noted it beforehand kekeke~
Name: Somewhere Only We Know (有一个地方只有我们知道)
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Drama
Release Date: 10th February 2015
Length: 1 hour 49 minutes
Note: Watched the film while it was still showing in the cinemas ^^~
Synopsis (from Wikipedia):
Jin Tian (Wang LiKun) is a young woman who recently got dumped by her fiance and lost her grandmother, Chen LanXin (Xu JingLei). Feeling heartbroken, she travels to Prague, the place where her grandmother once spent years of her life. In her grandmother’s belongings she finds a letter from 1970.
In Prague, Jin Tian meets Peng ZeYang (Wu YiFan), a young single father who lives with his daughter and mother. The two develop a mutual attraction during their journey on searching Josef Novak (Gordon Alexander), her grandmother’s past lover.
Impressions prior to watching:
After hearing online that this movie (especially a Chinese movie!) was going to release in Australia (which, I must state to you right now, is super super rare!), I vowed to myself that I will absolutely watch this movie in the cinemas, without question nor doubt. And mainly for one huge reason:
Wu YiFan aka
my forever bias Kris is in it, not to mention also as the main male lead of the movie.
I mean, *pfft* what better reason is needed to watch this movie, honestly?
But, apart from knowing that he was in the film, I didn’t really read around to find about what his role was, what the movie was about or even who else was gonna be in it (which probably would have mattered much anyway since I didn’t really recognized anyone in there apart from Gordon Alexander lol) I was hoping to enter this movie not having a lot of high expectations, and there was a reason behind that. Mainly, it was because is was Kris’ debut work as an actor (if we don’t count that “MV” that must not be mentioned…), and seeing that he has not had a lot of previous experience with this field, I didn’t really wanna know what to think or expect. And so, for the sake of my poor heart, I exempt myself from hoping too much. *sigh* I feel so guilty for thinking this way…
Opinions on the movie:
It…wasn’t too bad. Like I mentioned above, I didn’t have much to expect from this movie, nor did I have any idea about what was going to happen in this film. Sure, the movie wasn’t the best film I’ve ever watched, however I can’t say that it was as bad as I’ve seen people ‘rant’ about over the internet. I can only assume that they were all people who thought negatively about YiFan’s part in the movie (they were also possible fans of EXO who believe that Kris is some sort of traitor…what a joke honestly)
SO, putting all that aside (it boils my blood sometimes when I see and read these narrow-minded people and how shallow their comments are at times grrrrrr~) I will say that I thank the director herself Xu JingLei (who also has an acting role in the film) for taking YiFan on board despite his small amount of acting experience, and to help him fulfill this huge dream of his. I do hope that he continues with this acting path (if he so chooses) because through this film alone, I already see potential.
But, not all was perfect. This film, whether I enjoyed it or not, has flaws. From the plot, to the acting, to the sometimes cringe-worthy scenes and lines that just made me whisper “the clichés” while I watched the movie. Even the music sometimes were a little awkward, and the pacing of the film was also jerky and felt quite rushed at times. But, I’ll get into that in a sec. For now, let us indulge in the positive parts of the film.
1. The cinematography of the film overall was stunning
Each shot in this film was done sooooooooo beautifully! I believe that the location of choice for this film may have been a large contributing factor. Prague just seems like such a romantic and gorgeous tourist location to go to, and there were many sites shown in the film that made me think “People are probably going to flock there over the next year just to hook up with someone!” I mean, if I went to Prague and it guaranteed me men that looked as decent as YiFan did, then girl send me on the next flight to the Czech Republic, please!
Especially in the shots where there was no dialogue. For parts in the film, we are shown a collage of clips from both couples, loving the time that they spent together with each other; it was simply breathtaking. The pictures that they captured, along with that background music really seemed to give the film a sense of warmth and happiness, which probably warmed the hearts of many who were in the cinema with their significant other. Basically, the quality of the film was there, and it was really nice to watch and look at. Sometimes, from what I have noticed in the past, is that filmmakers tend to cut the quality of their films in order to gain more profit but thankfully, Director Xu didn’t do that with this.
Below is the first trailer of the film. Though it is quite short, I feel that it highlights how cinematic the whole movie is.
2. Touching love story between Chen LanXin and Josef Novak
I feel slightly guilty to say this, but I personally enjoyed the second love story over the first one. This second love story was the grandma’s story, and about her search for love in Prague. As I will mention later, ZeYang and Jin Tian’s buildup into their relationship seemed to not flow as well as LanXin and Josef’s did. For me, I felt that their build-up into their relationship seemed to make more sense. And, since it was set during the World War II period (if you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know that I am a total history junkie/addict!), their love story seemed to peak my interest a little more. Jin Tian and ZeYang’s relationship just seemed so complicated at times, while the grandmother’s story seemed a lot more straightforward, despite the hiccup they encounter later on; I kinda understood why they fell for each other as the film progressed.
3. Really cute and touching scenes by ZeYang with his mother and daughter (YiFan as a father? Hallelujah everyone!)
There was this certain sequence during the film where ZeYang is just hanging and playing with his cute little daughter NiNi, and I was literally smiling like a goofball while silently squealing to myself about how cute this entire scene was. I wished that there was more of them (they probably cut them out *huff*) but thankfully, there was enough to realised how much ZeYang loves his daughter. It was also really touching when he later says to Jin Tian about how NiNi is possibly the greatest gift he has ever received in his life *swoon* Once again, those sequences really warmed the heart and made us all fall for their father-daughter love.
And the other touching relationship I felt in this film was in fact between ZeYang and his mother. I won’t share too much here (since I feel that it would be spoiling a little too much) about their relationship with each other, but want I will say is that YiFan’s greatest acting moments, in my opinion, is mostly during the scenes when he was with his mother. It is mainly because throughout the film, we see ZeYang as a carefree and bubbly person who is filled with optimism yet when he is with the mother, a more mature and dependable man appears. Their mother-son relationship really reminded of the period when my father passed away, and I was the main head of the house who had to care for my weak mother and saddened younger sister. The worries and issues that ZeYang had with his mother really seemed to mirror my relationship with my mother too, and so it really hit home at times during some scenes.
1. Really awkward and rushed pacing at times
Warning: Do Not Read This Section If You Don’t Want To Know How The Couple Hook Up
I think I can agree with many in saying that the movie’s pacing, at least in terms of Jin Tian and ZeYang’s relationship at the beginning, is a little rushed. I mean, by the 20 minute mark, we have ZeYang already grabbing Jin Tian’s wrist and pulling her closer to him, seeming as if they are about to kiss. 20 minutes in, people! He has only seen her three times prior to that moment, and let’s just say that his first impressions of her weren’t that positive. Yet somehow he was became quite infatuated about her, in a matter of minutes…It just seemed really abrupt and choppy at the beginning.
End of spoilers
However, as their relationship starts to blossom, the pacing doesn’t seem too bad. You just kinda forget that they hooked up so soon, and you just see the love between them start to form. Along with the adorable daughter who loves having both adults around, the three really seem like a normal and happy family. However, the plot starts to slow down again after another occurrence, which leads to us seeing how the love story between Josef and LanXin unfolds.
Josef and LanXin’s love story is kinda shoved in between ZeYang and Jin Tian’s, and the two love stories at times don’t seem to flow well in and out of each other, especially since these two relationships blossom at the same place, but over 50 years apart. Although, I have to admit that I like the idea of these two love stories hopping between time periods at the same location; it gives the city Prague a sense of timelessness.
What I can assume is that when the final product was being edited, they had cut out too much from the original (from what I’ve heard, over 2 hours worth of filming had been cut), leaving some holes and bumps throughout the film where it used to have something that either explained about a certain situation, or how some characters develop etc. It’s a shame that that had to happen, but then again it is understandable.
2. A very, very predictable and clichéd plot
Sadly, this movie was filled more top to bottom with clichés. Also, towards the beginning, the film revealed in my opinion, too much to the point where I could predict what was going to happen. I felt quite disappointed about that, and I wished that somehow the film didn’t have to reveal too much so soon. I won’t go into detail about what it was, but there was a certain part about the grandma’s story which I wished they didn’t share within the first 25 minutes into the movie. I mean, come on, you could restrain to reveal a major spoiler within the first 25 minutes, right?
I’m not going to go on ranting about how clichéd this movie was because, like most rom-com movies, they are usually filled with clichés. I just kinda wished that they approached this film a little differently, especially with Jin Tian and ZeYang’s characterisations. I didn’t feel as attached to both of them as I would with most movies (once again, I’m blaming the cutting for this!) and in turn, the plot didn’t seem to come off as unique or touching; it was simply predictable to me.
So, although this wasn’t the greatest movie ever, I still didn’t mind watching it mainly because I knew that I was supporting YiFan in some way. I’m happy that he was finally able to fulfill a dream that he had always wanted to accomplish, and that I have somehow contributed towards it in some way. I hope to see him in plenty more works in the coming future, as I have mentioned before that he seems to have great potential!
So, despite the film having a very lacking plot, awkward pacing and sometimes stiff acting, this film had also a lot of redeeming factors, such as the warm and touching scenes between our two couples, the beautiful scenery that the film captured perfectly, and finally the feeling of sincerity throughout the film, which is understandable since Director Xu had dedicated this film to her own grandmother.
Borrowing the rating system from the lovely goddesses of Kdrama reviews themselves Javabeans and Girlfriday, I would rate “Somewhere Only We Know” as:
How much I liked it: 6.5/10
How good was it objectively: 6/10
So, thank you everyone for checking out this review. If you are able to, I would recommend you all to maybe check out the film, especially if you are a Wu YiFan fan (hehe~) and would like to support him! If this is not possible for you, then maybe try and grab hold of the DVD once it comes out. There will probably be some sort of bonuses in there (*cough cough* cute bloopers *cough cough*) and extra BTS too 😉
P.S. Have you guys checked out YiFan’s song contribution to the film? It was played in the movie as well, but it was only for a couple of seconds. For those who didn’t feel sated about it, here is the MV for it 😉
Once again, thank you all for staying around, and I’ll catch up with you soon~
❤ Yami Hyunnie ^^~
February 20, 2015 at 11:40 pm
I watched the movie on the day it was released in Australia as well haha, but unlike you, I think I’m a much harder person to please so the movie really disappointed me in the most cringe-worthy and even aggravating manner. There were so many things beyond the pacing of their romance that annoyed me, and both the romances were a little superficial to me
such as SPOILER ALERT:
when Lanxin is able to win Josef’s affections when she says typical stuff like ‘I think your wife would want you to live on and more importantly be happy as well’),
END OF SPOILER
or at the very least, not that well thought out. I agree the acting from the majority of the characters were very stiff, and character wise probably both Kris and Likun had the worst character development as leads. Just a lot of their actions didn’t make sense, but mostly for the part of Likun when
SPOILER ALERT 2:
1. she was telling her sob story to Kris two or three meetings after they met. She was very lucky that Kris’ character didn’t run off, because everyone has a past, and it’s not something I feel you should easily tell to a person you hardly knew. And, I was convinced she was just some psychotic b*tch who felt the need to visit him and regard his mom sort of impolitely JUST BECAUSE he didn’t pick up one phone call.
2. She stormed out of the house after finding out that Kris has a previous significant other in his life, which I thought should have been completely obvious to her considering that Kris has a daughter. AND he just had a fight with his mom as well.
END OF SPOILER
This is one of the movies where they tried to appeal to a larger audience through the location in which its produced, but ultimately at the expense of the plot and character development. I don’t even mind cliches, but after seeing this movie, I wished they opted to produce a simpler storyline, but with better execution.
February 21, 2015 at 9:28 am
Hi Tiriou, thank you so much for commenting! Yes, I guess I am someone who is easy to please >///< Probably I was terribly biased in reviewing about this movie mainly because of a special someone in the film lol~
Btw, this comment will have some spoilers so to anyone else who is reading this without watching the film beforehand, be aware 🙂
Yes, I agree that Lanxin's love story was a little bit too unrealistic in the film since after one confession they just happen to fall for each other. However, from what I sensed, this woman had been 'sending' Josef some signs that she had some sort of affection for him for a little while. I know that they didn't show that in the film (therefore it is unfair that I think she was doing these things) but I had some sort of feeling, ya know?
And omg yes, how could I have forgotten about Likun's weird and random nervous breakdown that night. I remember when I was watching that scene, I kinda wanted to flip a table and give our poor Kris a hug. I mean, that was really uncalled for, whether she has a trauma about ppl leaving her or not. I guess the only explanation I can give in her defence is that that trauma she is dealing with must be quite severe, and did not allow her to be in her conscious state in that moment. However, I didn't really like the fact that it took her days after the incident, and an apology from Kris first before she can admit that she was entirely in the wrong. I mean, by the next day at least when she is calm and steady, she should have gone back to see him and say sorry for how she behaved that night. I failed to mention about this scene in the review by accident; I guess this scene was just so bad that my mind erased it entirely lol
And yeah in the end the film was honestly created mainly because it could appeal to an international audience, what with it's huge idol star and interracial relationship. I wished that they just focused on one relationship rather than trying to mesh two together; that way, perhaps one relationship could have been fully developed, and we wouldn't be left with such undeveloped characters and plot.
Thanks again for commenting! I can totally relate when you stated that you were slightly aggravated about this film. I think that I was so annoyed by some scenes, that my brain just erased them from my memory when I wrote the review LOL! Hopefully we will see Kris in a future project which isn't as bad as this one 🙂
February 26, 2015 at 4:58 pm
Very glad that I found someone who’s on the same page as me. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore Kris, but this movie is totally a bad investment and I feel that his presence is enough to influence many people that this is a good movie… and I really do hope that Kris will be branded as a good actor in the future instead of as a former member of EXO. btw, have you seen 20 once again with Lu Han in it? Surprisingly I thought that was pretty good and I wanted to see your take on it haha.
February 26, 2015 at 5:42 pm
Hi Tiriou again, thanks for replying! No, sadly I haven’t been able to grab hold of the movie, but I definitely plan to watch it in the coming future (hopefully before uni starts!) How did you find it? I’ve been hearing pretty mixed reactions on the movie. Judging from the trailer, it seemed to have great potential but then again, it was only the trailer lol. Let me know how you thought about the movie; maybe it will convince me to try and grab hold of it quicker!
And yeah, I do hope that YiFan will be able to take from this movie enough experience to try and brand his image as a newly formed actor rather than ex-EXO member. I definitely wish him the best for the future. Thanks again for the comment, and I hope to hear from ya soon!
February 27, 2015 at 12:15 pm
Haha I went to the cinemas to watch it, though I’m not sure it’s still releasing in Australia. Well, I guess I can understand that there was some mixed reactions about the movie; I thought it was worth seeing but my friend was just kind of ‘meh’ about it. But like I said, I thought it was pretty good! There wasn’t really anyone who’s kind of cringe-worthy when it came to acting, and I was pleasantly surprised to have seen many more scenes with Lu Han than I thought. I only had 17 again to compare to in terms of plot (I never watched the korean version of back to 20) and considering, there’ll be some things that take you by surprise, in a good way. Overall, I think I liked it because it did what it can with the premise, and it doesn’t try to be so epic, you know what I mean? Don’t know if this helps, I suck at reviewing without being able to spoil LOL but yeah, if you do watch it and decide you didn’t like it, then I understand haha.
February 27, 2015 at 12:21 pm
I watched Back to 20 actually a few days before I watched SOWK. I thought it was a much better movie that SOWK just because the message was so sweet and it was a heartwarming movie. The end was also really good. Lu Han did have a lot of scenes, and now I’m a fan of him too, haha! To anyone who watches Chinese movies, I would definitely recommend Back to 20. The actors portray their characters pretty well and Chen BoLin is in the movie!
February 27, 2015 at 12:22 pm
Let’s just say that the movie brought a lot of insight of old age and what it would be like if one got a second chance at life.
February 27, 2015 at 2:34 pm
^ winning comment haha
February 27, 2015 at 12:30 pm
Haha thanks for the recommendations Dolphinluver & Tiriou! Currently, Back to 20 is not showing in the cinemas here in Australia, so I may have to wait until it releases on DVD, or when I can find a copy and grab hold of it online. From both of your comments, I can see that this movie is most likely better than SOWK, and I am totally excited about that. Once I grab hold of it, I’ll definitely do a review on it. Thanks guys for commenting, and I hope to hear from you both soon~
February 22, 2015 at 3:45 pm
I enjoyed reading your review. I’m a new fan of Wu Yifan, almost having no idea of his existence before this movie came out. The one thing I would like to rant on is how correct you were about the plot holes and pacing of the movie. Every normal person would have noticed that Zeyang and Jin Tian started a relationship literally in DAYS. And his first impression of her was a drunk woman who wanted to take him home….like what?? And then I personally thought that Zeyang’s character was way too young to be a father. Even though he was a single father and it was assumed that he was young and foolish at age 19, older adults watching may have a hard time getting into the movie knowing that Wu Yifan plays a single father in this movie. It’s just really unrealistic and kind of throws you off, you know? Zeyang and Jin Tian getting back together in the end is also a cliche. But overall I did enjoy the movie.
February 22, 2015 at 9:49 pm
Hi Dolphinluver, thanks for your lovely comment. Don’t worry about being a new Wu YiFan fan; there is much to learn and discover about him and so, I believe that your ‘interest’ in him may peak eventually lol. Yes, his first impressions of Jin Tian caused a little bit of a concern for me since he has somehow convinced me that he finds that sort of woman…attractive? Not to mention that that was also how the mother first interprets her to be as well…awkward~~
I had thought that they may have tried to play his character a little bit more older than a mid-20s man. But to have him engaging with an older woman and to have him as a single father by 20…I wasn’t too sure why they wanted him to to that. If they tried to convince us that he was maybe 30 and a single father, perhaps I would have bought his story a little more, who knows?
And of course the getting back together was a cliché. I believe most movies can’t help but want the main couple to get back together. I just wished that they executed that entire scene differently and not so predictable. Oh well, we can only dream I guess.
Thanks again for commenting, and whoop whoop to 2 hours of enjoyable eye candy 😉
February 22, 2015 at 3:46 pm
Wu Yifan was also pretty much eye candy throughout the whole movie, haha.
June 13, 2015 at 4:12 pm
Thanks for this review. I’m a fan of Fanfan but not really wanting to watch this because from the trailer and pics, it seems too cliché for me : (
I don’t mind the spoilers. It makes me relieved that I am making a right decision. I don’t like rushed love stories (I don’t believe in love at 3 days – anyway, this is a movie so I must not complain). But oh well – I would love to watch that father-daughter love and mother-son love. Reason why he acts very well in those scenes is because we know he lives with only his beloved mama, and he loves her sooo much. Also knowing the feeling of being raised up without a father, I think he swore to himself if ever he will have a child/children, he will pour out all his love to them. In those times, he may not be acting 100% – he was showing very real sides of him, his natural self.
We gotta love Fanfan but… I already acknowledge I don’t have even 0.0000001% of chance to see him (although Guangzhou or Beijing is just a plane away from Manila -_-)
Again, thanks for the review and spoilers!! Back to 20 sounds really interesting. I am also Luhan’s fan (but more Fanfan’s). I must watch that because of the story alone! : ))
June 13, 2015 at 8:50 pm
Hey In My Opinion (nice name lol) and thank you so much for the comment! I feel so guilty for not check out Back to 20 yet, but I’ve heard great things about it; we should both check it out I guess.
And don’t worry! One day, we will both get the chance to meet him, I’m sure of it (fingers crossed!) Let us believe and wish together sister!
Thanks again for the lovely comment, and I hope to see ya around soon 😉
September 15, 2015 at 7:12 pm
Can u pls mention all d sountrack of ds movie? pls … cnt find any..
September 18, 2015 at 2:44 pm
Hi Monya. I’m sorry to inform you that I can’t find any links to the soundtrack as well. The only thing I can find is Wu Yi Fan’s song from the movie, which I assume you can find too very easily. Hopefully, someone will eventually provide a full soundtrack for the film. I’m sorry that I couldn’t be much help.
November 16, 2016 at 11:20 am
Hi! This was a good review and you raise many good points. I just watched the movie on Netflix, and I actually thought it had a lot of potential. However, I too feel that the love story between Jin Tian and Peng Zeyang was rushed. I also was left confused towards the end (*****WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO MAY BE SEEING THIS COMMENT AND HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE. SCROLL PAST THIS WHOLE COMMENT SO YOU DON’T SEE THEM****), when it’s revealed why Lanxin didnt stay with Dr. Novak. What happens to Novak’s wife? Does she die? Do they end up splitting? How come he just leaves to see Lanxin? I mean, I get they had fallen in love with the assumption that his wife and child were dead, which doesn’t seem all that unrealistic for the time period. But one does not simply just leave his wife in that kind of condition to follow another person. Lol. Also, there was just sooooo much going on in the plot (sick moms, stood up women, single dads, in addition to a mystery love story in a foreign country) that I think this movie would have been better off a drama. That way, the love story between Jin Tian and Pen Zeyang could’ve developed better and other aspects of the plot could’ve been fleshed out much better (e.g: maybe a better look at the situation with the daughter Pen Zeyang and her mother. Because although she was really cute, she kind of was just there. I wanted more!).
December 14, 2016 at 2:05 pm
Hi Victoria! Let me start by firstly apologising for the very late reply! I did see that you left a comment, but I forgot too quickly to reply (please forgive!)
My memory of the movie has slightly blurred since I had watched it, but from what I remember is that I believe he had received official news that his wife and child had died, and thus was able to freely love Lanxin (please correct me if I’m wrong about this)
And yes, there was just SOOO much going on in this movie; perhaps if it were dragged out in a drama, it might have suited the writing more as you stated. I guess the main factor is truly due to time; there was so much written, but not enough time to show it all. Truly disappointing, since I would have really wished that Jin Tian and Ze Yang’s romance could have been fleshed out more, since I’m pretty certain that that was the main OTP.
Thanks again for the comment, and sorry again for replying to you a whole month late >.< Wishing you a very early Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
December 14, 2016 at 2:53 pm
Hey! No worries at all! (: I think he was under the impression she died initially when he moved on to Lanxin, but then he gets a call from someone saying that the wife is alive, thus prompting Lanxin to move on from the doctor. Then the doctor visits Lanxin again and sleeps with her, but Lanxin leaves him for good. Unless I misunderstood .-. I had to watch in subititles because I don’t speak Chinese so I probably did miss some things in the movie hehe tho that scene was in English so I don’t think I misunderstood that part ;p thanks for replying and I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year as well!