Directed by Teng Huatao, this romantic comedy is similar to Sophie’s Revenge, as both detail the emotions that follow a break up. When Huang Xiaoxian (Bai Baihe) is dumped by her boyfriend (Guo Jingfei) for her best friend, she moves through the standard stages of anger, depression, and acceptance. Her dismal work performance in a wedding planning agency causes her to be reprimanded several times by the manager, who secretly enjoys playing the lovingly stern paternal figure. With the help of her coworker and nemesis, Wang Xiaojian (Wen Zhang), she eventually learns to move on from the break up (in 33 days) and regain her independence and self-confidence.
Rereading the plot overview, I realize that it sounds like the standard plotline. Girl gets dumped, spends a few weeks moping and stuffing her face with ice cream, enter new boy, insert some revenge tactics, everyone moves on with their lives. It doesn’t just sound generic, it IS generic. However, I like this movie for many reasons.
1. The main character is a single, 27 year old. In China, she is considered a 剩女 (Shengnv), someone who is past the ideal age for marriage. She is the characterization of many such women in China, who are educated, financially independent, but single.
This phenomenon has been regarded as a triumph for feminism and progressive thinking. We can also see this theme recur in many movies, as well as the slew of dating shows that have sprouted on most Chinese television networks. I always like it when movies reflect current social issues, because it adds a layer of depth to the plot. The ending of the movie also reflects a rather feminist attitude. Which brings me to the next point.
2. The ending is not the typical romcom ending. Although it is hinted that Xiaoxian has developed feelings for Wang Xiaojian, and vice versa, they do not have any explicit romantic scenes in the movie. No longing gazes, no secret smiles, even when they moved in together. In my opinion, one of the strengths of the plot is that Wang Xiaojian is her nemesis, but also something like a best friend.
I have a soft spot for bickering, fun couples (over the melodramatic, I love you so much I just might die sort), and these two are definitely entertaining to watch. I like that Wang Xiaojian’s role in her life is always supportive, sometimes critical, but very dependable. Throughout the movie, I felt like he was the favorite second male lead, who never gets the girl (except he doesn’t have the mopey symptoms). Their relationship could be interpreted as completely platonic, and I might like it a little better that way (though who doesn’t want to see a pretty couple?). Sometimes I think too much lovey-dovey ruins the movie.
3. The movie is actually pretty funny. There are many scenes that I love, such as when Xiaoxian tells off a demanding, slightly bitchy client without realizing that her phone is still on, and all of Xiaoxian’s interactions with Wang Xiaojian (I just love his name. It’s actually Wang Yiyang, but Xiaoxian nicknames him Xiaojian, which translates to something along the lines of petty in this context. She then continually calls him that, to his face I might add, for the rest of the movie). I certainly thought none of the humor was too forced, or too contrived.
All in all, I think this is one of the better romcoms made in China. It’s not over the top, in cuteness, humor, or anger. I think it’s more realistic than something like Sophie’s Revenge.