Posted March 13, 2015
By SIYUAN TONG
Telling two love stories in Prague, the Chinese film “Somewhere Only We Know” came out calling itself a movie of “pure love.” Just as it advertised, this is a fair romantic drama.
Jin Tian, the main character, a young woman who recently lost her grandmother—her only relative in the world — and got dumped by her fiancé, she ran to Prague, where her grandmother once lived, to take a break and try to get rid of the pain. With the encounter of Peng Zeyang, a single father who lived with his mother and daughter, her journey of love began.
A sketchbook Jin found in her grandmother’s belongings and a letter for her grandmother from a man named Josef Novak several decades ago reveals another mysterious story of her grandmother’s unknown past love.
Though sometimes characters seem to fall in love way too fast, what happened after two couples being together is portrayed in detail.
Without much other distracting content, “Somewhere Only We Know” is a love movie wholly focused on the love stories of Jin Tian and her grandmother Chen Lanxin.
Trying not to make the movie too dull or flat, director Xu Jinglei mixed the stories of Jin Tian and Chen Lanxin. Time comes back and forth between two stories in a well-organized way without letting audience get lost.
“Somewhere Only We Know” is her sixth film as a director. Xu’s directing improved a lot compared to her previous work in “Dear Enemy” and “Go Lala Go,” both of which feel like some random online self-made films with poor editing.
Having a career as a successful actress in China after being graduated from Beijing Film Academy in 1997, Xu started directing in 2003. The style of her movies did not change much during the years — mostly love stories in different background settings, but her work does vary in an emotional way as her experiences change.
Spending three years traveling around the world after feeling tired of her old life and just “want to get away and be another self,” according to her interview with Lohas Magazine, Xu started “Somewhere Only We Know.” Her own experience is probably why the movie was set in another country with two main characters trying to lay down their pasts and look for the future — “If I cannot let go of the past, tomorrow will never come,” Jin whispers in the movie.
There is nothing special to say as the prosaic storyline goes along, except the movie does look like a typical Chinese love drama.
Chen and Novak, being in deep love, thought nothing could separate each other, but finally had to realize that future is always unpredictable — “I was so sure we would be together, but nobody can tell what will come.”
Jin and Peng met in another country with their own past hurts and tried to love again. As the passion cools down, reality came in such a undeniable way that they have to decide if this was just a temporary romantic encounter, or it would be a lasting love.
However, the perseverance of love is always there in the movie, no matter each story ended with sorrow or joy; and this perseverance will probably touch some female audience.
Another minor problem is that the whole film talks about stories in Prague, but the location does not seem to provide anything special — it is still stories about Chinese, except one of them has a Czech boyfriend.
Taking the film as a whole, it is not necessarily bad or too dramatic, but there is nothing really exciting either. It is not that boring to watch and you should not lose your patience easily as the plot continues. During the film, you might laugh a bit and get touched a bit, but at the very end, no strong emotion would be established. If it is for a nothing-to-do weekend, but this is not a horrible choice to make to pass some time.
- Film title: “Somewhere Only We Know”
- Release date: Feb.13, 2015 (U.S.)
- Company credits: Beijing Kaila Picture Co.
- Lead actors: Wu Yifan, Wang Likun, Xu Jinglei and Gordon Alexander
- Director: Xu Jinglei
- Run time: 110 minutes
- Showing theater: AMC Sunset Place, South Miami
- MPAA rating: None
- Author rating: 3.5 out of 5