Starring: Dong Zijian, An Yuexi, Gao Haoyuan
Director: Liu Jie
Running Time: 91 mins
Young Style is a Chinese film about a high schooler who, after failing his college entrance exam while distracted by his first love, is forced to repeat the year of gruelling preparation for the most intense exam of his life, and along the way learns some valuable lessons about life, study, friendship and responsibility.
Although I didn’t expect much from this film, particularly after its painfully cheesy opening, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Young Style is in fact a very heartfelt and genuine coming-of-age film that, although suffering from the odd element of hyperbole, is enjoyable and engaging from beginning to end, complete with realistic young characters that are fantastically easy to relate to throughout.
Let’s start off with those characters, because coming-of-age films can often be completely destroyed by a dull or annoying central character even if the rest of the screenplay is actually decent. However, Young Style fortunately manages to provide a whole host of entertaining and charismatic characters that are lively throughout, making them really enjoyable to watch, all the while being written with all of the genuine flaws and issues that many young people face, particularly at a time of high pressure when preparing for their big university entrance exam.
Although the film may start off on the wrong foot, putting a little too much emphasis on our main man’s heartache after an unsuccessful confession of love, the rest of the film manages to bring it all pretty much back down to earth, and even though there are moments when we return to the more melodramatic nature of the romantic side of the plot, the majority of the film is an insightful and heartfelt look at the pressures and troubles faced by young people.
It’s not a film that’s meant to be socially conscious, but it does everything to give you characters and a story that anyone can easily relate to through their own personal experience, something that makes it a far more engrossing watch than something lighter and cheesier, which really impressed me throughout.
What’s more is that, although not absolutely exceptional, the humour here is pretty good too. I wasn’t rolling on the floor laughing, but that’s not really the sort of comedy that the film is going for. Instead, it chooses a light and appropriate sense of humour that fits in well with its dramatic story, and throughout pops up with a nice joke or silly gag to make you chuckle and smile, something that added an extra level of charm to it all.
Overall, I had fun with Young Style. Although not absolutely perfect, it’s a genuine and relatable coming-of-age story with realistic and interesting characters, complete with an appropriate use of comedy throughout, all of which make for an enjoyable and engrossing watch, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.5.