Us and Them (film)

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Us and Them
Usandthem2018.jpg
film poster
Traditional後來我們
Simplified后来我们
MandarinHòulái de Wǒmen
LiterallyWho We Will Be
Directed byRene Liu
Produced byZhang Yibai
Starring
CinematographyMark Lee Ping-bing
Distributed byTianjin Maoyan Culture Media (Mainland China)
Netflix (International)
Deltamac (Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan)
Release date
  • April 28, 2018 (2018-04-28) (Mainland China)
  • June 22, 2018 (2018-06-22) (International)
  • August 2, 2018 (2018-08-02) (Hong Kong)
CountryChina
LanguageMandarin
Box office$209 million[1]

Us and Them (Chinese: 后来的我们, lit. "Who We Will Be") is a Chinese romantic drama film directed by Taiwanese singer-actress Rene Liu in her directorial debut and produced by Zhang Yibai. The film stars Jing Boran, Zhou Dongyu and Tian Zhuangzhuang, and was released on April 28, 2018.[2] The films explores the relationship between a man and a woman who share the same rural hometown and try to find fulfillment together in Beijing in the face of economic, social, familial, and romantic adversity.

Plot[edit]

The story is told while flipping between the past and the present, the "us" and the "them", with scenes in the past being filmed in colour while scenes in the present being filmed in black and white.

During the hectic Chunyun period, two strangers, Lin Jianqing and Fang Xiaoxiao, traveling home meet on the train. Jianqing and Xiaoxiao becomes friends and find out that they are both living in Beijing, trying to find success. Jianqing wants to become a game-maker but has to deal with financial issues as well as lack of time. Xiaoxiao lives with her boyfriend in Beijing, but she leaves him due to an issue with his mother. Xiaoxiao moves in with Jianqing who is living in a tiny room in a complex, and the two of them make money by selling computer software and Japanese porn.

In the present tense a grown and successful Jianqing meets with Xiaoxiao in a hotel while he is on a trip. They sit and talked about life growing up in Beijing and about how they really felt for each other. The story then goes back to the past and during Chinese New Year while Jianqing and Xiaoxiao are getting drunk, they end up having sex. They begin a relationship, but it is unsteady due to the financial issues as well as Jianqing's lack of understanding of what Xiaoxiao really wants. In order to not feel like he is a failure to his high school friends, Jianqing pretends to be a successful game maker when he is celebrating with his friends and ends up using all of his money to buy them a nice expensive dinner. The two of them return home during the Chunyun period, and spend time with Jianqing's father. Jianqing's father tells him that he doesn't need to act rich to his friends if he is not.

One day the manager at the complex that they stay in tells them that they can no longer stay there and she is having a friend take over. While at work Jianqing snaps at a caller and curses at him, which the caller comes to the business and the two of them fight. Jianqing becomes increasingly angry at life, and he even scolds his dad for calling him, but after realizing what he said, wishes his dad a happy new year. The relationship of the two becomes even more distraught and Xiaoxiao eventually boards a train and breaks up with Lin, who has been ignoring her to play video games. Jianqing notices that she has gone and finds she has already boarded a train, but he does not talk to her and just watches her leave. He becomes determined to work and finish his game, now having the time and motivation to get things going, and the game becomes a big hit. He eventually gets a job deal and starts making money. Xiaoxiao sees Jianqing on the news in an interview where he talks about the inspiration of the game's story and how it ties back to her.

That year during the Chunyun festival Jianqing asks Xiaoxiao if she will go together with him to their hometown, which she does. Jianqing's father informs him that he is at the early stages of blindness. While eating dinner with Jianqing's father, he tells his father to leave his "crappy" restaurant and move in with him in Beijing so he can take care of him. His father becomes upset and tells Jianqing that his "crappy" restaurant helped fed his family for over 20 years. He refuses to leave and Jianqing berates his dad. Jianqing gets up and leaves, with Xiaoxiao following him. Jianqing asks Xiaoxiao to return to him and give him a second chance, now that he has money he can finally give her the life he had always promised. Xiaoxiao tells Jianqing that she didn't stay with him because she hoped he would get rich and buy her a house, but because she liked him. She tells him that he doesn't understand her and never has, and then leaves.

The story then returns to the present and it is shown that Xiaoxiao is still struggling and single. Jianqing is revealed to have a wife and children, living successfully. The two tearfully ask each other if the young love they had years ago was real, and Xiaoxiao admits that she really loved him. She tells him that maybe they were destined to meet on the train home, and maybe they were also destined to not be together. Jianqing drives Xiaoxiao home and says goodbye. She tells him that they never really had a "real" goodbye before, so she gives him a friendly emotional hug and they say their goodbyes. Jianqing tells Xiaoxiao that she will find true love again one day. While returning home with his wife, Jianqing's father mistakenly calls her Xiaoxiao, to which Jianqing tries to not react. It is later revealed that Jianqing's father was already blind and thought his son had married Xiaoxiao, but quickly realized it wasn't her. He writes Xiaoxiao a final letter, telling her that he wishes she would have ended up with his son, but life doesn't go according to plan. He called Jianqing's wife Xiaoxiao because he wanted Jianqing to marry her so badly. Jianqing's father passes away and Jianqing goes to his father’s restaurant, reminiscing about the past.

At the end, Xiaoxiao plays through the game, finding the hidden messages for her in the story written by Jianqing. Colour returns to the present timeline as they reconcile with the past.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The script was created by Zhang Biyai based on a short story Home for Chinese New Year. Jing Boran claims to have first read the script "by accident and immediately fell in love with it. Then I met René and we talked about my views on the script and my ideas. We found that we agreed with each other, and therefore I decided to take up the role."[3]

The film was shot in Hailar, one of China's coldest places, in winter 2017.[4][5] Liu remarked that shooting scenes in minus 40 degrees Celsius weather was painfully cold.[6]

Taihai Publishing released a 288-page book by the director and her thoughts throughout the production, including on-set photography.

Music[edit]

Hong Kong pop singer Eason Chan sang the theme song for the film. The song was composed by Chen Chien-ci and written by Ge Dawei, and the music video was directed by Shen Xiaowei. The music video was released on April 10, 2018, receiving 2 million views in just two hours.[6]

Release[edit]

The film premiered on April 23, 2018 in Beijing.[7]

At the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Netflix bought exclusive distribution rights to the film everywhere outside of China.[8] The film was released on the service in June 22, 2018.[9] Liu remarked, "I am honored that the film was chosen as Netflix’s first Chinese language original film."[3]

Reception[edit]

Box Office[edit]

Us and Them was a hit in China, earning $191 million over its first two weekends.[10] There was controversy over its $88.8 million May Day weekend opening, and whether ticket sales were inflated through refundable tickets [11] with a rival studio suing over the allegations.[12] Maoyuan, the online ticket sales platform accused of malpractice, attributed the abnormal refunds to high-demand for pre-sale tickets and scalpers.[13] The success of the movie made Liu the first female Chinese filmmaker with a film earning over one billion yuan.[14][15]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 100% based on reviews from 6 critics.[16] It holds a score of 5.9/10 based on 224453 user ratings on Chinese-language Douban[17] and 6.3 on Chinese-language Mtime.[18] Eddie Strait of the Daily Dot remarked that, "[Liu] is a generous storyteller, unafraid to let her characters make mistakes but never vilifying them.".[19] Joe Reid of Decider.com described it as "a simple but beautifully filmed love story that touches upon the economic realities of the world [...]"[20] John Berra of Screen Daily commented on how, "Liu deftly handles the peaks and troughs of young love, eliciting winning performances from Jing and Zhou."[21] Bhaskar Chattopadhyay of First Post highlighted the parental dynamic between Jianqing's father and Xiaoxiao: "It is the sort of writing, the kind of performance that one hopes to see in a film, and it literally saves the film from being just another love story, elevating it to a whole new level altogether."[22] On Oct 19th 2018, Vulture ranked it as #43 in its list of Every Netflix Original Movie, Ranked.[23]

Accolades[edit]

Year Awards Ceremony Award Name Result
2018 55th Golden Horse Awards Best New Director Liu Ruoying Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Tian Zhuangzhuang Nominated
Best Adapted Script Yuan Yuan, He Yuming, Pan Wei, An Zhen, Liu Ruoying Nominated
Best editing Liao Qingsong, Kong Jinlei Nominated
Best Original movie song "We" original singer: Eason Chan / lyrics: Ge Dawei / Composer: Chen Jianwe Nominated
2018 Chinese Film Media Awards Audience Favorite MV "We" Won
Most Popular Actress Zhou Dongyu Won

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/intl/?page=&wk=2018W17&id=_fUSANDTHEM01
  2. ^ "《后来的我们》刘若英眼里的"百味春运"" [Us and Them: The Kaleidoscope of Chunyun in Rene Liu's Eyes]. Xin Kuai Bao (in Chinese). 2018-02-13.
  3. ^ a b http://entertainment.com.ph/2018/06/25/us-them-breaks-barriers-in-china/
  4. ^ "刘若英导演处女作《后来的我们》宣布杀青" [Filming wraps up for Rene Liu's directorial debut Us and Them]. Sina Corp (in Chinese). 2017-12-23.
  5. ^ "井柏然周冬雨合作新戏海拉尔极寒拍摄被冻坏" [Zhou Dongyu and Jing Boran "freezing" while filming new movie in Hailar's extreme cold weather]. China Network Television (in Chinese). 2018-01-26.
  6. ^ a b Zhang Rui (13 April 2018). "Eason Chan sings wistful theme for Rene Liu's new film". china.org.cn. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  7. ^ http://ent.163.com/18/0424/10/DG5B5OE7000380D0.html
  8. ^ Cannes: Netflix Takes Chinese Blockbuster 'Us and Them' for the World (Exclusive)
  9. ^ Netflix's New Releases Coming in June 2018
  10. ^ https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/cannes-netflix-takes-chinese-blockbuster-us-them-world-1109132
  11. ^ https://variety.com/2018/film/asia/china-box-office-questions-us-and-them-holiday-weekend-1202791492/
  12. ^ http://chinafilminsider.com/headlines-from-china-box-office-hit-us-and-them-sued-for-unfair-competition/
  13. ^ http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1102350.shtml
  14. ^ https://www.inkstonenews.com/arts/chinese-women-filmmakers-topping-box-office/article/2153842
  15. ^ https://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fi-ct-china-box-office-us-them-20180509-story.html
  16. ^ "Us & Them (2018)".
  17. ^ https://movie.douban.com/subject/26683723/
  18. ^ http://movie.mtime.com/253823/
  19. ^ https://www.dailydot.com/upstream/us-and-them-netflix-review/
  20. ^ https://decider.com/2018/06/24/us-and-them-on-netflix-stream-it-or-skip-it/
  21. ^ https://www.screendaily.com/reviews/us-and-them-review/5128687.article
  22. ^ https://www.firstpost.com/entertainment/us-and-them-movie-review-beautifully-crafted-romantic-film-with-a-sensitive-take-on-fragile-relationships-4637901.html
  23. ^ Every Netflix Original Movie, Ranked

External links[edit]