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Xu Lu (left)and Peng Yuchang play music students in Our Shining Days (category IIA, Mandarin), directed by Wang Ran.

Review | Film review: Our Shining Days – traditional Chinese music battles Western classical in teen comedy

An Eason Chan cameo doesn’t detract from the youthful spirit in Wang Ran’s debut drama about youth and music culture in a Chinese high school

3/5 stars

The declining popularity of traditional Chinese music and the outcast image often associated with members of the ACG – short for animation, comics and games – subculture in China form the dual focus of Our Shining Days, a slight but entertaining youth drama directed by first-time filmmaker Wang Ran and scripted by Love is Not Blind screenwriter Bao Jingjing.

A student of the yangqin (a Chinese stringed instrument) since she was a child, the quirky Chen Jing (Xu Lu) has pretty much given up her dreams at the age of 17, as she wastes most of her time in a music high school hanging around with Li You (Peng Yuchang), a nerdy Chinese percussionist.

Liu Yongxi (front) leads a traditional Chinese music performance in a still from Our Shining Days.

When Chen develops a crush on a snobby piano student (Luo Mingjie) in the rival, Westernised department of classical music, she tries to impress him by forming a Chinese music ensemble; the four girls she ends up recruiting – led by Liu Yongxi’s guzheng guru – are all ACG geeks. Then the school’s plan to shut down its Chinese half starts an all-out battle between its two camps of students.

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While the film provides a peek at the influence of imported pop culture – best exemplified by a Chinese music performance by Japanese-style cosplayers alongside a 3D anime hologram – Our Shining Days is a conventional tale about following one’s passion, no matter how unpopular it may appear to others.

Canto-pop singer Eason Chan makes a cameo appearance late in Our Shining Days.

Ultimately, even the scene-stealing cameo of Canto-pop star Eason Chan Yik-shun as a visiting party cadre is not enough to distract from the young heart beating through the story.

Our Shining Days opens on October 5

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