Cinema: Better Days (2019)
Updated: Feb 1
Better Days, dir. Derek Kwok-Cheung Tsang
I wrote this review about seven months ago, prior to the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown regulations. Over the last months I left many of the literature and film review posts in my draft dashboard in order to focus on compiling devotions. Spending time in worship and prayer as well as sharing these reflections with you has been the greatest gift, and I love the community we've built. But I'm also looking forward to uploading reviews (even very short ones) on the work and writing that has both shaped and provided respite from my studies.
After I watch a film or read a book, I often write a couple sentences in response------to consider the influence it has (or has not) left in the wake of its end. Almost like a personal record to look back on, or a goodreads account.
So this is my little disclaimer before I begin uploading more of these drafts. If any of the titles pique your curiousity, please do leave a comment below or email me! I'd love to tailor the recommendations to what you like best?
Now onto the film review:
Derek Kwok-Cheung's Better Days, starring Zhou Dongyu, Jackson Yee and Yin Fang, is a gripping drama-----this film focuses on the theme of bullying: an exposé of response and consequence. Better Days may be one of the most intense, deeply moving depictions of bullying that I have witnessed yet. The acting is phenomenal, thoughtful and provoked. One specific moment----a two minute silent towards the end of the movie speaks to the depth and skill of the actors. Subplot, plot-twist, chronological-reworking and a text-epilogue layer the film.
Here is the synopsis:
Chen Nian is a dedicated student------one of the top in her class. The pastscoping of the film begins (after a short prologue) a couple of months before Gaokao, the two-day exam that all Chinese students take in order to secure University grades. The pressure is undeniable: young children study between stacks of papers and books. To fail is to dishonour one's name and family.
The police come to investigate a suicide, and find themselves drawn to Chen Nian when she whistleblows on the gang responsible. But Nian's action ahieves little-----the authorities cannot protect her from the clique and she turns to young criminal Xioa Bei (Jackson Hee) for protection, and later, love.
Better Days is very graphic, and as much as I recommend the film for its cinematography and sensitivity to heavy themes, I would also ask viewers to research the synopsis in order to gauge whether the themes/events will trigger------Better Days is hard to watch and forget.