Starring Sean Xiao Zhan (肖戰) and Li Qin (李沁) as the leads, freshly wrapped period drama Where Dreams Begin <夢中的那片海> dropped its first teaser on June 21 and broke tens of millions views within the span of a week. Although the story is set in the past, the couple successfully caught viewers’ attention with a romantic library scene where they gazed lovingly at each other, with fans praising his convincing portrayal of a middle-aged man.
Fans Note Xiao Zhan’s Improved Acting
The short 1 min 6 second teaser shows Xiao Zhan’s transition from a youthful student taking the high school entrance exams to a middle-aged man in his prime. Portraying the character’s growth and showcasing the difference in both his outward appearance and inner state of mind, viewers noted the marked improvement in his acting since 2020’s Ace Troops <王牌部隊> where his performance was comparatively wooden less mature.
Already their fifth onscreen collaboration, Xiao Zhan and Li Qin had lots of chemistry and similar to Xiao Zhan, the actress had to portray her character’s growth from when she was a student all the way to adulthood as a doctor in professional attire, fully gloved and masked. While her uniform caused some netizens to comment that Li Qin appeared much less gorgeous and even dowdy onscreen, others praised her for her professionalism.
An inspirational youth drama set in the seventies, the story narrates how Xiao Chunsheng (Xiao Zhan), Dong Xiaomei (Li Qin) and their group of friends mature from students into empowered workers, and support each other through their journeys of entrepreneurship, going abroad, entering politics and medicine as they pursue their dreams — set against the background of China’s opening up and evolutionary reforms. Carng for and supporting each other while chasing their ambitions, the central couple become each other’s best confidante.
Fan Reactions Are Two-Way
Reactions towards the trailer has been extreme, with some looking forward to seeing Xiao Zhan’s character Xiao Chunsheng’s growth, and praising the trailer for defying the stereotype of period dramas being typically angst-ridden and portraying a refreshing aura of youthful enthusiasm instead. Still others felt that it seemed to be less chase-worthy than The Longest Promise <玉骨遙>. Many also commented that while Xiao Zhan looked dashing in the trailer, Li Qin’s unflattering styling made her appear old-fashioned and less attractive and remarked that they could not believe she was the same person who played “Chicken Leg Girl” in Joy of Life <慶餘年>, and even felt like fast forward her scenes.
“Where Dreams Begin” Trailer: