Walkman? Friendship bands? YES! cards? It’s the 90s, darn it!
Once in a while, I go nuts and fangirl over a movie, drama series, book, song, singer, actor, idea … you get the picture. This time, it’s Our Times《我的少女时代》, a nostalgic movie set in my growing up years of the 90s that’s got my
knickers heart in a twist. And you’d know the fangirling is serious by the number of videos embedded here…
《我的少女时代》Our Times theme song – 《小幸運 A Little Happiness》by 田馥甄 Hebe Tien
《我的少女时代》Our Times Trailer
The look of
crazed rabid dedicated fangirls anywhere
The story is a simple one – Lin Zhenxin (her name translates as Sincere, or Truly) reminisces about her past as she is treated badly by boss and boyfriend. An awkwardly geeky Andy Lau fan, she fangirls over school hunk, Ouyang Feifan (literally Extraordinary), who’s also the top student, ace basketballer and a guitar-strumming crooner to boot. (Yes, that boy that you, me and every other girl crushed on so badly.)
“If you haven’t played hooky at least once, you’d regret your high school life!”
After witnessing a standoff between him and the resident bad boy, Xu Taiyu, she sends a chain letter to Taiyu, thereby starting a chain of events which results in an unlikely friendship between them. As they bond over their respective crushes (he likes the school belle, Tao Minmin), they start seeing each other in a different light.
Studying at a bubble tea joint
I could write more about the plot, but why spoil the fun if anyone happening to read this should want to check it out. In any case, here’s a link if you are into spoilers and such. Wiki has got the whole story there. Be warned! Or just highlight the next part below for a bit more…
“The night market’s that way, aunty!”
… They go on study dates at bubble tea joints, he teaches her rollerskating at an abandoned rink, and she even dresses up to go on a date with him. However, neither confesses their growing attachment to each other, and constantly tries to deflect attention from their own feelings by mentioning the other’s initial crush. This leads to noble idiocy, where Taiyu gets together with Minmin, in order to leave Feifan free to be Zhenxin’s. The part where she wipes off tears so that she can congratulate him for dating Minmin just gets you in the guts. The smirk on his face that transforms into a sad grimace after he shoves her to make a move on Ouyang… So much pathos. Taiyu later leaves for America, but not before he’s given the Andy Lau standee to Zhenxin, together with a tape where he confesses his feelings for her. Of course, she doesn’t listen to it until he’s left.
The smirk that hides a thousand tears
It’s been a while since I’ve watched something so sincere and funny. The youthful energy is infectious, and the plot skips along fairly speedily without sacrificing character development. The movie gets you right in the heart every time: all the feels you felt as a teen – an accidental glance that the unattainable crush sends your way, the loyal posse whom you share crazy times with, standing up for something even though you’re scared, the first stirrings of love, that boy that makes your heart truly skip a beat because he gets you and comes over to check that you’re truly ok because you had said you were fine (and admit it, you know you’re not, and you’ve always wished they knew “I’m ok” is actually code for “I’m freaking out here” – they’re right there on the screen as you relive your youth.
And the fact that we often forget the passion that we had – whether it was due to hormones, or finding our way in the world, or experiencing something for the first time – it’s worth having a reminder from a movie like that to seize the day, to live, and not to lead lesser lives as we acquiesce to societal demands.
Plus the set and costume designers were spot on with the 90s feel of the show – all those YES! cards, idol stickers, autograph books and horrifying fashion (centre partings, anyone?) are so deliciously nostalgic for any Singaporean (Chinese) teen, not just the Taiwanese or Hong Kong ones.
There’s been comparisons to 2011’s Apple of My Eye, a movie that’s also set in the same time period, but told from the point of view of the male protagonist. I find Our Times much zippier, with gags and silliness peppering the movie throughout, and melo only kicking in the the penultimate part of the show. *SPOILER ALERT* But the feel-good ending more than makes up for it when Zhenxin takes inspiration from her past and takes charge of her life in the present day, leading to a totally sweet reunion. So sue me, I’m a huge sap. *END OF SPOILER*
Totally badass. Totally hot.
This is Darryl Wang’s debut movie role, and for a rookie, I think he’s awesome in bringing the role of tough gangster with a marshmallow core to life. With his styling, he looks like a larger than life manga character (think Inuyasha or Sakuragi). Vivian Sung’s portrayal of plain Jane, Zhenxin, also reminds me so much of myself – the ditsy klutz bit only unfortunately, and not the friendship with such a hot guy, not that I would ever mind. Sure, a makeover often helps the girl get the boy, but when the boy already likes you as you are – that’s every girl’s dream, isn’t it?
The sidekicks are also hilarious in providing comic relief. Who hasn’t gone through shenanigans with these friends for life? The teachers, while caricatures – the strict spinster, the weird old one, and the borderline psycho discipline master – were also not uncommon in our school life at some point. But methinks Dino Lee is miscast here – he’s limp as a rag, with nary a whiff of manly pheromones about him. Ditto for Dewi Chien as the blah Minmin.
For a trip down memory lane, catch 《我的少女时代》Our Times at a cinema near you! It’s a good show, so watch first, download later. Or better yet, buy the DVD when it’s out. Support the arts!
《我的少女时代》BTS – 真心篇 (Vivian Sung)
《我的少女时代》BTS – 太宇篇 (Darryl Wang)
《我的少女时代》BTS – Joe Chen, Jerry Yan
《我的少女时代》BTS – Andy Lau
《我的少女时代》BTS – Supporting Characters (Adults)
《我的少女时代》BTS – Supporting Characters (Young ‘Uns)
《我的少女时代》BTS – Second Leads (Dino Lee and Dewi Chien)
《我的少女时代》BTS – Hebe
Before anyone accuses me of being a cradle-snatcher with my aunty crush on Darryl Wang, just tell me, how could you resist his megawatt smile? So cute, that baby boy, whether he’s being a bad boy or being totally sweet. (Plus he totally frenched the director at the film’s celebration party lor. Lucky woman. )
Don’t forget our dreams. Till then.