So Young (film)

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So Young
SoYoung poster.jpg
Directed by Zhao Wei
Produced by Stanley Kwan (executive producer)
Screenplay by Li Qiang
Based on To Our Youth that is Fading Away 
by Xin Yiwu
Starring Mark Chao
Han Geng
Yang Zishan
Jiang Shuying
Music by Dou Peng
Cinematography Li Ran
Edited by Chan Chi-wai
Hua Shi Film Investment Co., Ltd
China Film Group
Beijing Enlight Pictures
Pulin Films Co., Ltd
Beijing Ruyi Xinxin Film Investment
Beijing Max Times Cultural Development
Dook Publishing
Distributed by China Film Group
Release date(s)
  • April 26, 2013 (2013-04-26)
Running time 132 minutes
Country China
Language Mandarin
Budget 30 million yuan
(US$5 million)
Box office 715 million yuan (US$116 million)[1]

So Young (simplified Chinese: 致我们终将逝去的青春; traditional Chinese: 致我們終將逝去的青春) is a 2013 Chinese drama film directed by Zhao Wei. It is based on the best-selling novel of the same name To Our Youth that is Fading Away by Xin Yiwu. The film is Zhao's directorial debut.

The film's English-language title alludes to the song So Young by the British alternative rock band Suede from their self-titled debut album. In addition to the novel, the film was also based in part by Zhao's own personal college experience in the 1990s.[2]

The film has become a major success at the Chinese box office, grossing over US$116 million with a US$5 million budget.[1]


Youth goes fast, and yet you are still alive. There will be no coming back.

Zheng Wei, a young girl, has just started university: a new life, new flatmates, and yet a path made of tears when you are more interested in success. Success and failure constantly stress the life of Zheng Wei and her boyfriend, Chen Xiaozheng, until their real meanings are finally uncovered. Their love is murdered by money and success and the shadows of Zheng Wei life will disappear again.

Life goes on, and Zheng Wei suddenly becomes a big girl. Ruan Guan, one of her three ex-schoolmates, is pregnant but her boyfriend, Zhi Shiyong, doesn't want to have children, so she aborts. After many years, Zheng Wei boyfriend comes back from the US. After that, Ruan Guan will soon die from a car accident.

Youth is something that you remember when life and death clash with happiness. A melancholy cemetery will be the end of their youth, but Ruan Guan will be young forever.


  • Yang Zishan as Zheng Wei
  • Mark Chao as Chen Xiaozheng
  • Han Geng as Lin Jing
  • Jiang Shuying as Ruan Guan
  • Bao Bei'er as Zhang
  • Zheng Kai as Xu Kaiyang
  • Zhang Yao as Li Weijuan
  • Tong Liya as Shi Jie
  • Liu Yase as Zhu Xiaobei
  • Wang Jiajia as Zeng Shu
  • Huang Ming as Zhao Shiyong
  • Pan Hong as Chen's mother
  • Yang Lan as Yang Lan
  • Han Hong as DJ Zi Juan


Xin Yiwu, author of the novel, has mentioned that Zhao Wei was actually her choice to play the lead character of "Zheng Wei". However, Zhao declined the offer, and opted to direct the film.[3]

Besides Mark Chao and Han Geng, a majority of the cast are newcomers, including Yang Zishan, who played the lead female character Zheng Wei.[4] Zhao stated, "They're very green and new. Sometimes they even lack common sense. But I like working with them because they're down-to-earth...What they lack in experience, they replace with enthusiasm."[5]


For this film, Zhao Wei intended to take the story in a panorama view to the life of college students in the 1990s, "not just a love triangle", "I'd like to devote this film to everyone out there who had a similar youth... It’s a memory shared by those who were born on the Chinese Mainland between the 1970s and early 80s."[6] Zhao also bought the rights to Suede's song for the film.[7]

Production on the film started from March 3 and ended on June 22, 2012.[8][9]


  • Theme song: "To Youth" (致青春)[10]
    • Composer: Dou Peng
    • Lyricist: Li Qiang
    • Performer: Faye Wong


Critical response[edit]

After the premiere of the film in Beijing, it has gained favorable reviews from critics and audience, dubbed as a "matural directorial debut".[11]

It has also gained positive reviews from English-language critics. Dereke Elley of Film Business Asia gave the film a 7 out of 10, describes the film as "an impressive directorial debut" and praised the film's "powerhouse first 90 minutes" as "that draw an involving portrait of love, friendship, ambition and broken dreams among a group of university students..." However, Elley criticized the last portion of the film, and states "as the film abruptly flashes forward several years to pick up the characters in the big city, all the dramatic credit accumulated to that point is squandered by a final 40 minutes that seem rushed and fabricated, with none of the earlier dramatic traction." Elley summoned up "As a two-part movie running some three hours, So Young could have been a truly epic portrait of youthful emotional errors and their later consequences. As it stands, it's a remarkable directorial debut by Zhao that's well acted by its ensemble cast but is more of an ambitious, great-looking torso than a single movie." Elley also sates "One can only hope that one day an extended Director's Cut of the film will eventually emerge on ancillary."[12]

Maggie Lee of Variety described the film as an "accomplished directing debut" and "a lyrical ode to youth at its most fearless and foolhardy."[13] Elizabeth Kerr of The Hollywood Reporter wrote "Anchored by an engaging performance by Yang Zishan in her first lead role, Zhao's film proves the actress turned director adept with images and actors." "The film’s first 90 minutes make for a complete enough film that the bloated, soapy final 40 become a distraction from Zhao and Li’s careful character construction earlier on. It’s been rumored that Zhao’s original cut clocked in at three hours, and so in that light the rushed, half-baked feel of the last act becomes clear. But even with more time the “adult” segment of the film feels out of place, tonally and stylistically. Thankfully Zhao makes the most of her cast, who carry the film farther than it has a right to go."[14] Tay Huizhen of MovieXclusive (Singapore) gave the film a rating of 4.5/5.[15]

Top Ten Lists

Box Office[edit]

In mainland China, the film grossed 45 million yuan in the opening-day, and broke the opening-day box office record for a non-3D Chinese language film.[17] The film also surpassed Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons in advanced sales according to online box office tabulation.[18] The film went on to gross 141 million yuan in its opening weekend, and Zhao became the first Chinese female director to have a first feature film to gross over the 100 million yuan mark.[19] Through May 5, its cume was $76.72M. In an interview, Zhao Wei said "I’m given box office figures every other day. I feel OK. I am very satisfied with what we’ve taken. You can’t be too greedy."[20]


List of awards and nominations
Award Category Nominee Result
The 22nd Shanghai Film Critics Awards Best New Director Zhao Wei Won
Films of Merit Won
EntGroup Film Industry Awards[21] Best Innovative Marketing Film Won
Best Production Placement Film Won
The 29th Golden Rooster Awards Best Directorial Debut Zhao Wei Won
Best Adapted Writing Li Qiang Nominated
Best Actress Yang Zishan Nominated
Best Cinematography Li Ran Nominated
Best Music Dou Peng Nominated
Best Art Direction Li Yang Nominated
The 50th Golden Horse Awards Best New Director Zhao Wei Nominated
Best Adapted Writing Li Qiang Won
Best Original Film Song Dou Peng (Composer)
Li Qiang (Lycrist)
Fay Wong (Performer)
Best Art Direction Li Yang Nominated
The 8th Chinese Young Generation Film Forum New Director of the Year Zhao Wei Won
New Actress of the Year Yang Zishan
Zhang Shiying
New Cinematoprapher of the Year Li Ran Won
New Production Designer of the Year Li Yang Won
The 5th Australia International Chinese Film Festival Best Actress Yang Zishan Won
The 9th Chinese American Film Festival Golden Angel Award Films Won
Best Director Zhao Wei Won
The 5th China Image Film Festival Best Actress Yang Zishan Won
Best Supporting Actress Jiang Shuying Won
The 10th Guangzhou Student Film Festival Favorite Director Zhao Wei Won
The 56th Asia-Pacific Film Festival Best Actress Yang Zishan Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Jiang Shuying Nominated
Best Screenplay Li Qiang Nominated
The 15th Huabiao Film Awards Outstanding Youth Filmmaking Won
Outstanding New Actress Yang Zishan Won
Outstanding New Actor Bao Beier Nominated
The 33rd Hong Kong Film Awards Best Chinese Language Film from the Two Coasts Won
The 8th Asian Film Awards Best Screenplay Li Qiang Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Mark Chao Nominated
Best New Performer Jiang Shuying Won
The 5th China Film Director's Guild Awards Film of the Year Nominated
Director of the Year Zhao Wei Nominated
New Director of the Year Zhao Wei Nominated
Screenplay of the Year Li Qiang Nominated
Actor of the Year Mark Chao Nominated


  1. ^ a b Kevin Ma (2013-10-24). "China box office up 35% in 2013". Film Business Asia. 
  2. ^ Clarence Tsui (2013-04-22). "China Box Office: ‘G.I. Joe’ Pulls in $33.5 Million in First Week". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  3. ^ Marie Clair (China Edition): February, 2013.
  4. ^ ELLE (China Edition): October 2012.
  5. ^ Vicki Zhao confident with "So Young". Yahoo! Malaysia. Mar 15, 2013.
  6. ^ Preview: So Young. Time Out Beijing. 23 April 2013.
  7. ^ Southern Weekend: March 25, 2013.
  8. ^ 赵薇现身南医大引围观 导演处女作昨开机被赞“有范儿”. Jinling Evening News. March 4, 2012.
  9. ^ 赵薇处女作《致青春》杀青在即,选址八月照相馆拍摄. China Economic Review. June 29, 2012.
  10. ^ Faye sings for Zhao Wei. Sina English. March 20, 2013.
  11. ^ 赵薇《致青春》获好评:成熟的处女作 April 22, 2013
  12. ^ "Review: So Young". Film Business Asia. 16 May 2013. 
  13. ^ "So Young Review". Variety. June 2, 2013. 
  14. ^ "So Young: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. June 5, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Review: So Young". MovieXclusive. June 12, 2013. 
  16. ^ Top Ten Films of 2013 Popular Cinema January 24, 2014
  17. ^ 《致青春》首日超4500万破纪录(图) April 27, 2013
  18. ^ "Zhao Wei's "So Young" breaks record". Yahoo! Singapore. 30 April 2013.
  19. ^ 《致青春》1.4亿 赵薇成首位处女作过亿女导演 CRI Online April 29, 2013
  20. ^ Actress-Turned-Director’s Chinese Drama ‘So Young’ Breaks Local Records May 7, 2013
  21. ^ 第四届"艺恩电影产业奖". entgroup. June 19, 2013.

External links[edit]