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 ^^~