Directed by Eric Tsang’s (曾志伟) son Derek Tsang (曾国祥), who is also known for directing Soul Mate <七月与安生>, has another box office success in his hands.
Better Days is a coming-of-age mystery starring Zhou Dongyu (周冬雨) as Chen Nian, a bullied high school student who becomes a prime suspect in the murder of a female classmate. Her life gets thrown off course with the addition of Xiaobei, portrayed by TFBOYS member Jackson Yee (易烊千玺), a street-dwelling rebellious student who also becomes a suspect.
Released on October 25, the film broke 100 million yuan in the box office after three days of release despite little promotion. Trailers of the film were also not attached to any major box office release. According to Douban, China’s biggest aggregator site on reviews for movies, books and television, Better Days scored 8.7 point, indicating extremely positive reviews.
For the film, both Zhou Dongyu and Jackson shaved their heads into a buzz cut. As moral support, members of the crew also shaved their heads to similar hairstyle. “We’re all protecting the youth,” said Derek. “We all finished this project together.”
On working with Jackson, in which Better Days is his first feature film as lead actor, Derek said, “He has no difficulty getting in character, because he is a person with empathy. It’s rare to come across a kid like him who can empathize and understand people so well.”
Critics are raving about the film, with some saying that Better Days is the best coming-of-age film that China has released thus far in 2019. Both Zhou Dongyu and Jackson are praised for their chemistry and versatile acting.
Producer Jojo Hui (许月珍) said, “After watching the film, it’ll make you think: what kind of youth do I want to be? What kind of youth do we want to provide for our children? This film can only be successful if the audiences come up with these questions on their own.”
Zhang Ji (张冀), screenwriter of American Dreams in China <中国合伙人>, said Better Days has surpassed even Derek’s last film Soul Mate: “It teaches us about how we can face this world, to not escape. It helps us understand our life and society.”
On the theme of his movie, Derek said, “Growth isn’t just about experience. As a youth, you are doing more than just learning, more than just pursuing your ideal love. You all have your own battles to fight, and I hope that this film would be able to realistically show what it takes to grow.”
As for the relationship between Zhou Dongyu’s Chen Nian and Jackson’s Xiaobei, Derek said, “It’s more than just love. They are also protecting each other.”
This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.