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 ZishanJiang 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 dates
  • April 26, 2013 (2013-04-26)
Running time
132 minutes
Country China
Language Mandarin
Budget 30 million yuan
(US$5 million)
Box office 718 million yuan (US$118 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$118 million with a US$5 million budget.[1]


Zheng Wei started her college freshman year as a civil engineer major to be in the same city as her childhood playmate, Lin Jing, whom she determined she would marry one day. When Wei visited Jing at his college dormitory however, Jing's roommate told her Jing left for America. Unable to understand why Jing abruptly left without saying goodbye, Wei felt heartbroken.

Back in her college dormitory, Wei became close friends with her three roommates, Ruan Guan, the most beautiful and popular girl in the class; Li Weijuan, a practical and realistic girl who came from province but determined to marry well; and Zhu Xiaobei, a tomboy. The four girls talked about their goals in life, and all cheered to Ruan Guan's ambition—to have a youth that will never fade away.

Wei also befriended Lao Zhang and his roommate Xu Kaiyang, architecture majors, during the college clubs and activities fair. Kaiyang came from a well-to-do family and started his romantic pursuit for Wei, but Wei would only regard him as a friend. One evening Wei went to Lao Zhang and Kaiyang's dorm room to borrow their DVDs. Wei was amazed and disgusted by the messy condition of the male dormroom, except one bed and corner that was neat and clean. Lao Zhang said this spot belonged to their disciplined and hardworking roommate, Chen Xiaozheng. Laozhang went out of the room to find his DVDs, leaving Wei alone in the room. Wei saw a near finished building model on the table and started fumbling with the parts. At this moment Xiaozheng came back and angrily yelled out, "What are you doing there?" Startled and swinging around to see who was yelling at her, Wei knocked the model off the table. Xiaozheng managed to save his model by shoving Wei out of the way. Wei stumbled to the floor and was enraged at her humiliation. Wei angrily demanded an apology from Xiaozheng, but Xiaozheng coolly replied that he had nothing to apologize for and that it was her fault to touch his building model. From then on, Wei was determined to repeatedly humiliate Xiaozheng as a revenge to at least get his apology that she believed she deserves. Through her attempts Wei realized she in fact, liked Xiaozheng. From Lao Zhang and Weijuan, Wei learned that Xiaozheng came from a poor family and was raised by a strict mother, hence his aloof and disciplined personality. Wei declared her interest in Xiaozheng, then openly, relentlessly, and shamelessly stalked Xiaozheng to get his attention, much to his annoyance. Eventually, Xiaozheng was impressed by her enthusiasm and determination, and agreed to be her boyfriend.

During the rest of their college life and relationship, Xiaozheng and Wei found that they have starkly contrasting personalities. Although he appreciates Wei's fiery enthusiastic personality, Xiaozheng also reprimanded Wei at times for her laid-back and undisciplined attitude towards her coursework. Wei asked Xiaozheng why is he so serious all the time, Xiaozheng replied, "I don't know what your attitude towards your life, but my life is like a building that can only be built once, so I cannot afford any margin of error." Xiaozheng implied that due to his family's modest financial circumstances, he needed to do anything and everything he can to ensure the best possible professional future for himself.

Eventually graduation came upon Wei and Xiaozheng. At the on-campus recruitment and interview fair, Wei believed she and Xiaozheng would work at the same institute thus remain together. Unbeknownst to Wei, Xiaozheng has applied and obtained a graduate fellowship to study architecture in America. When Wei learned of his plan, she confronted Xiaozheng to ask why she was the last one to know. Xiaozheng difficultly explained he could not tell her because he was afraid of hurting her and reiterating that he could not make any mistake in his life, he then apologized that he had to make this choice of leaving her to make a better future for himself.

Fast forward a few years; Wei had now become a mature professional great at her work, much different from her bygone youthful days. One day she suddenly encountered Lin Jing. Jing explained he left abruptly because he learned that his father was having an affair with Wei's mother, so he could not face Wei, he never went to America, but avoided contact with her except for once when he went to look for her but found her with Xiaozheng. He wanted to come back and rekindle their friendship and, possibly, romance.At this time, Xiaozheng also returned from America, now as a renowned and accomplished architect. While he now had everything professionally that he was determined to get, Xiaozheng regretted letting go of Wei and also wanted to rekindle their relationship. Wei on first meeting refused Xiaocheng. During this time, Ruan Guan is killed in a car accident trying to meet her university boyfriend for one last time before she got married. Wei in grief asks Lin Jing to get married. However, she later calls it off when Lin Jing tells about another girl that loved him during their time apart. Afterwards, Xiaocheng and Wei meet once more at the aquarium to reminisce. It is during this final scene when Xiaozheng asks Wei, "Can I love you again?" to which Wei replies, "Xiaozheng, we spent our youth together...youth is to be commemorated."



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 story's protagonist 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 "mature 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

  • 10th - Lie Fu, Asia Weekly[16]
  • 10th - Popular Cinema Magazine[17]
  • 10th - Mainland/Taiwan/Hong Kong Film Poll (Orgnized by Taiwan Film Board and China Film Critics Society)[18]
  • 10th - Hong Kong Film Critics Association
  • 8th - Taiwan Film Critics Society
  • Mainland Film of the Year - Southern Weekly[19]

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.[20] The film also surpassed Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons in advanced sales according to online box office tabulation.[21] 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.[22] 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."[23]


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[24] 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 21st Beijing College Student Film Festival Best Directorial Debut Zhao Wei Nominated
Best Actress Yang Zishan Nominated
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
The 32nd Hundred Flowers Awards Best Film Nominated
Best Director Zhao Wei Won
Best Screenplay Li Qiang Won
Best Actress Yang Zishan Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Bao Beier Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Han Geng Nominated


  1. ^ a b Kevin Ma (2014-02-23). "Monkey King joins billion yuan club". 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. ^ Lie Fu (January 12, 2014). "Top Ten Chinese Films of the Year 2013". Asia Weekly. 第28卷第2期 
  17. ^ Top Ten Chinese Films of the Year Popular Cinema Jan 24, 2014
  18. ^ Top Ten Films of the Year Guiyang Evening Post Oct 29,2014
  19. ^ Film of the Year Southern Weekly Official Jan 11, 2014
  20. ^ 《致青春》首日超4500万破纪录(图) April 27, 2013
  21. ^ "Zhao Wei's "So Young" breaks record". Yahoo! Singapore. 30 April 2013.
  22. ^ 《致青春》1.4亿 赵薇成首位处女作过亿女导演 CRI Online April 29, 2013
  23. ^ Actress-Turned-Director’s Chinese Drama ‘So Young’ Breaks Local Records May 7, 2013
  24. ^ 第四届"艺恩电影产业奖". entgroup. June 19, 2013.

External links[edit]