Length: 105 minutes
Director: Sha Mo
Cast: Qu Chuxiao, Zhang Jingyi
Language: Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles
Release details: In theatres 10 June (Singapore)
3.5 out of 5 stars
Adapted from a Chinese web story, Love Will Tear Us Apart is the tale of a 10-year romance between Lu Qinyang (Qu Chuxiao) and Ling Yiyao (Zhang Jingyi). Being a student with poor grades, Qinyang enters the workforce as a blue-collar worker, struggling to provide for himself and his girlfriend Yiyao. However, he is extremely diligent and tries to earn as much as he can, all for the day when he can marry Yiyao.
Yiyao finds his courage and love for her admirable, and chooses to stay by his side even though her family objects to the relationship. She even moves out from her family home to live with Qinyang to show her determination and belief in Qinyang.
But time and time again, Qinyang just cannot seem to fulfil his promise to her: to give Yiyao a better life. Instead, cruel reality continuously breaks down whatever foundation Qinyang has built, leaving the couple trapped in poverty and far from the dreams of having a blissful marriage.
At his wits’ end, Qinyang unwillingly gives up the relationship, saying that Yiyao should be someone people admire and not living a sad life like that. He said that he would never forgive himself if he kept letting her suffer with him. Even though the two lovebirds are separated, their hearts are still connected to each other.
One day, Yiyao calls Qinyang to tell him that she is getting married the next day. Working faraway in the mountainous and snowy Xinjiang, Qinyang desperately wants to get her back before it’s too late.
The film begins with the 3650th day that Qinyang is in love with Yiyao, and recounts his memories with her starting from day one — the day they met in school. However, unlike most films about high school sweethearts, Love Will Tear Us Apart does not focus heavily on the high school romance. It was short, sweet and to-the-point. The story takes on a more mature angle and explores deeper issues behind relationships, including money, family and society.
The only problem with this flashback is how the time is referenced by days. Day 3650 and day one are easier to understand. But when it is day 1392, for instance, it is too arbitrary to tell how far they are in the relationship. To be even more particular, day 3650 is not exactly 10 years either, if you take into account the leap years. Using days as a time reference for written stories may be more poetic, but adding a date may work better for movies.
Regardless, the character of Qinyang is well-developed and should be easily relatable. As much as people would like to believe that love can overcome anything, it is too often a naive thought. There are many other factors that contribute to a relationship, both intrinsic and extrinsic. Through the hardworking but penniless Qinyang, we can see how extrinsic factors — characterised by a love rival who is pictured as wealthy, successful and capable — lead to the downfall of their relationship.
Yet at the same time, it is heart-wrenching to see how Qinyang is so focused on giving Yiyao a better life that he ignores what Yiyao wants the most: to be by his side. More often than not, Qinyang takes on physical and financial risks to make a bet on their future. He even has to spend time away from Yiyao so that he can earn more money to give her a more comfortable life. In a way, it is painful to see that he is so obsessed with the future that he forgets to enjoy the present.
Although Love Will Tear Us Apart has a subtle ending, it is not exactly a cliffhanger that keeps you guessing. In fact, if you pay attention to Qinyang’s words, you will find a certain beauty and melancholy about the film.
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