我的少女時代 [Our Times – The Stupid Thing Called Love]
This time we will look at a Taiwanese rom-com. This category of films / dramas kept me company for the entirety of my teenage years. I would stay up until 3am (which is a crime when you are 16) to watch episode after episode; it was a sheer bliss. It didn’t really matter if I went to bed late because it was only school the next day. No project deadlines, no boss howling at you, no real consequences. It was in those adolescent years I lived vicariously through these fictional characters, secretly wishing to be caught in a heartbreaking but beautiful romance that these dramas made me believe. Teenagehood is all about being half hopeful, and half delusional.
Our Times (我的少女時代, 2015) is Taiwan’s best box-office performer in 2015. The film is often compared to You Are the Apple of My Eye (那些年，我們一起追的女孩) for their similar settings and the coming-of-age type romance. The film focuses on the happenings of an 18 year old high school girl Truly Lin (林真心). The direct translation of her Chinese name is “true heart”, meaning sincere and genuine. She is a very average girl: average height, average grades, average looks, average everything. But she is kind, good-natured, and optimistic, which is of course the reason why the male lead falls for her eventually. It is interesting to point out that a lot of female leads in Asian dramas are portrayed to be average, not special or unique in any obvious ways. Sometimes they are even clumsy, silly and dorky. It is always their inner beauty that won them the attention of the male leads. Perhaps the directors collectively decided an alpha female would look out of place in the kind of romance they try to create. The male leads, on the other hand, are usually popular, rich, handsome, super cool and / or badass, with a heartbreaking past that makes them the way they are. They don’t reveal the heartbreaking past until mid-story because it would not have made you cry if they told you right from the start. #SpoilerForAllAsianDramas
(I am sure there is some social theory that can explain the way in which Asian dramas are set up but I am no sociologist.)
Although the film was targeting at a younger audience, it still made me very sentimental. Part of it is because it reminded me of the whole period of time when puppy love affair was the entire universe for me. After the movie, I ended up reminiscing the time that I was completely delusional about love and romance. Oh yes, the movie is very much like a fairy tale: highly improbable but makes your heart cry like a little kid. Part of it is because it shows us love isn’t about searching for the best. We can never find someone who will consistently meet all our “criteria” as a partner. But when you learn to love the person for who they are, none of those criteria will matter. This is a line from the movie:
Instead of translating, I found a related quote by Jodi Picoult:
“You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.”
If you like the 90’s and want to bawl your eyes out, I highly recommend this film to you.