BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE
Two damaged souls form a unique bond, but as they graduate into the more complicated adult world, the innocent promise they once made to each other may no longer be sufficient to lead them out of the dark.
“Better Days” may be a love story on the surface, but it’s also an ode to anti-bullying. Bullying is universal. It happens in every country. Seeing it depicted in another place drives home that fact. In “Better Days,” the film starts with a young Chinese girl killing herself in school. With the pressure of studying for the college entrance exams looming over all the students, the film focuses on Chen Nian (Dongyu Zhou). Chen is an outcast student whose only parent, her mother, is a scam artist selling faulty face masks constantly on the run from creditors. Despite that, Chen is an above-average student. She’s also the last person to talk to the student who committed suicide and the bullies’ new focus. From blood-red liquid left in her seat to ripping her clothes off and taking pictures of her in an alleyway, these bullies are relentless and show zero humanity. Chen’s saving grace ends up being Xiao Bei (Jackson Yee), a boy living on the street who offers to be her protection. Over time, their relationship grows into a romance. But then one of Chen’s bullies is found dead, and their entire relationship turns into a giant question mark.
Derek Kwok-Cheung Tsang’s is heartfelt and rich with above-grade performances. The anti-bullying messaging is much needed and, again, reinforces that bullying is a universal problem.
The question is, can anything beat “Another Round,” which has been the favorite all awards season and sees Thomas Vinterberg in the Best Directing category? The answer is likely no. Even if something were to beat it, it feels more likely that “Collective” or “Quo Vadis, Aida?” would be the more reasonable choices. As I have not seen or heard anything about “The Man Who Sold His Skin” yet, “Better Days” ends up just above where the experts have it ranked at the moment.
|1991 (64th)||Best Foreign Language Feature||“Raise the Red Lantern”||NOMINATED|
|1993 (66th)||Best Foreign Language Feature||“Farewell My Concubine”||NOMINATED|
May 5, 2020
Derek Kwok-cheung Tsang
Lam Wing Sum
“In His Youth, In Her Beauty”
by Jiu Yuexi
Well Go USA
93RD ACADEMY AWARDS | OSCARS CHALLENGE
MARCH 27, 2021