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Our Times
Crossing Hennessy

Vivian Sung and Darren Wang in Our Times.



Year: 2015  
Director: Frankie Chen
Writer: Sabrina Tseng

Vivian Sung, Darren Wang, Dino Lee, Dewi Chien, Joe Chen Qiao-En, Jerry Yan, Andy Lau Tak-Wah

The Skinny: While cloying and sometimes cringeworthy, this youth romance mines its nineties school setting and stock characters for all they’re worth. Leads Vivian Sung and Darren Wang are great together, and there are Hong Kong entertainment reasons to see the movie too. An enjoyable if not accomplished entry in this genre.
by Kozo:
The nostalgic Taiwan hit Our Times has its share of problems – many of them, actually – but still works as likable, inoffensive entertainment. Big-time TV drama director Frankie Chen directs this nineties-set youth romance, which superficially resembles the 2011 blockbuster You Are the Apple of My Eye but reverses the sexes and doesn’t attempt the same level of soaring feels. Maturity and coming-of-age themes are present but thrown in the backseat for generic nuggets of wisdom about respecting yourself and wanting the person you love to be truly happy. Awww and also yawn. Nothing novel occurs here and that’s fine because it’s not like these sorts of movies engender sublime creativity. Frankie Chen can be a bit obvious and pandering with the drama but her comedy is fun and well-timed, and she pulls charismatic performances from her two young stars. However, at 135 minutes, the film should probably be called Your Time, because that’s what it requires.

Vivian Sung (Café. Waiting. Love) stars as Truly Lin, who narrates the story of her high school years when she was a klutzy nobody who wore glasses, had terrible tangled hair and possessed zero sense of style. Truly adores Hong Kong star Andy Lau and collects all his memorabilia, yet also has space in her heart for Ouyang (singer Dino Lee), a dreamy classmate who can play guitar and basketball, and is the school’s top student to boot. However, there’s animosity between Ouyang and greaser-hair-sporting bad boy Hsu Taiyu (Darren Wang), so when Truly receives a chain letter that curses her with bad luck if she doesn’t forward it to five other people, she makes Taiyu one of the recipients. Taiyu gets hit by a car soon after receiving the letter, and once he discovers that Truly sent it to him, he blackmails her into being his slave (doing homework, delivering food but nothing perverted). What she gets in return is Ouyang’s safety, i.e., Taiyu won’t open up a can of whupass on him.

Taiyu has his own crush on class beauty Tao Min-Min (Dewi Chien), but she rejects his advances. However, when it’s discovered that Min-Min and Ouyang may be together, Taiyu and Truly team up to self-servingly split them apart. Of course, this break-up plan is really a mask for our heroes’ burgeoning attraction to one another, and Frankie Cheng develops their romance in amusing and charming style. Part of this growth is the revelation that Taiyu is really not that bad – actually, he’s pretty much the best man ever with a rebellious streak and a mountain of manpain from a past trauma. The revelation of Taiyu’s other side leads to more melodrama fodder and a manufactured student revolt that’s as cringeworthy as it is rousing. Our Times falls back on speeches and unbelievable character transformations to get where it’s going, and loses energy and likability during its final forty-five minutes. Still, being enjoyable for over half its running time means that a film is above-average – so good for you, Our Times!

Adding to the amusement is the nineties pop culture atmosphere, when Hong Kong stars like Andy Lau were objects of obsession for girls all over Asia – a fun nod for those who remember such frivolity. The actors are also worth it. Rising star Vivian Sung is ace as both a klutzy ditz and a sweet schoolgirl, and while Truly’s rapid changes are unbelievable, they’re consistent with the film’s cartoonish idol drama tone. More surprising is Darren Wang, whose performance as Hsu Taiyu is star-making. His Julia Roberts-like megawatt smile is both cloying and charming, and he’s likable when playing a dangerous rebel or a tortured bishonen. The two are so enjoyable to watch together that the film actually stumbles when it replaces both with big stars for its framing device, which features the older Truly (Joe Chen) remembering her high school days. However, those scenes also feature a certain Hong Kong superstar playing himself, so Our Times wins anyway because it knows what its audience wants. By virtue of fan service, Our Times gets my time. (Kozo, 10/2015)

Availability: DVD (Taiwan)
Region 3 NTSC
Deltamac (Taiwan) Co. Ltd
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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