Watching this movie was one of the most spur-of-the-moment decisions I have ever made. Literally, I discovered this movie around 1pm while browsing youtube, and come 3pm, I was already watching it. On youtube, it’s titled 17 Again, while google claims that its title is Suddenly Seventeen. I’m gonna go with google on this one and use the title Suddenly Seventeen my review. As the youtube name and general title suggest, this movie involves the main character going back in time to when they were seventeen. It’s actually pretty similar to the American 17 Again movie. But personally, I much enjoyed this take on that trope, rather than the American version.
Instead of writing out a huge summary post (which I actually did LOL and then deleted), I’m going to write a smaller summary and focus on what I specifically liked about this movie. The whole large summary thing, while fun to write and read, take up a lot of space. Space that I believe I could use to actually review things, as this is a blog about reviews.
So anyways, the basic gist of the story-line is this: When she was 18, art student Liang, played by Ni Ni was proposed by Mao, played by Wallace Huo, to be his girlfriend. She accepted and for the next 10 years, she put her career on hold for Mao. Instead of working, she decided to play the role of the perfect wife for Mao. After 10 years, she’d been expecting him to propose, but when he did not, she got sad and ordered some chocolates that promised to bring happiness to peoples relationships. When she decides to take things into her own hand and propose to Mao, he ends up breaking off their relationship. She’s distraught and eats a chocolate, thereby transforming, at least mentally, into 17 year old Liang. 17 year old Liang doesn’t know a thing about 28 year old Liang and the two exist as separate people in the same body. Once a chocolate is eaten, the 17 year old Liang returns for a maximum of 5 hours. Basically, 28 year old Liang “employs” 17 year old Liang to paint things for her, as 28 year Liang was offered a job to paint designs but has forgotten her painting skills. While 17 year old Liang paints for 28 year old Liang, she also goes out and lives her own life, which includes flirting with and almost-dating rebel biker Yan, played by Darren Wang. The rest of the movie deals with Liang coming to terms with herself and the way her life moves forward.
One things I really, really, really enjoyed about this movie, was the character-centred aspect of it. Unlike the American 17 Again, this one focused more on Liang and her relationship with herself. As we see in the movie, 28 year old Liang put her life on the hold for her partner, because it was what she thought he wanted. She let herself go in order to conform to her illusion of what Mao wanted in a wife. Slowly, not only did she pause her career, but she also ended up changing her personality, loosing her spunk and zest to be proper and bland. It was only as she got to know herself, recognize all that she had done in the name of the relationship, and come to terms with herself and her skills/dreams/past/present, that Liang learned to love herself and in the process, reinvent her life. She got a job she loved and finally began becoming the version that she wanted to be, not the version she thought her boyfriend wanted. She realized that her feelings about herself mattered much more than Mao’s feelings about her. There’s a really great scene where Mao apologizes to her for ignoring her throughout their relationship and she tells him that he doesn’t have to apologize; she was at fault too and she finally realized that she didn’t want to stand in the back waiting for him to turn around anymore. She lets go of the relationship and understands that she’s much more than that. It’s an extremely beautiful message and portrayed quite wonderfully as well.
I also really liked how 17 year old Liang was just that, a 17 year old. She wasn’t a perfect character and had flaws, thereby signifying that her 17 year old was not the best version of her. For example, 18 year old Liang ended up putting her dreams on hold to follow Mao and his dreams. And when it came to 17 year old Liang, she was also willing to put her dreams on hold to follow Yan. I just thought it was so smart of the writers to show that. In essence, the 17 year old Liang was not much different from 18 year old Liang. Despite the vast difference between 17 year old Liang and 28 year old Liang, you could totally see how 17 year old Liang would’ve ended up 28 year old Liang. And the way 28 year old Liang handled 17 year old Liang was great too, showing how Liang had indeed matured and come to terms with herself and life.
Similarly, I also quite enjoyed the friendship shown between Liang and Bai, played by Ma Su. It’s so rare to see such positive, fun, female friendships. Bai fully supports Liang and helps her. Although its not anything major, I still quite liked it. Plus, Bai’s scenes were generally hilarious.
Which brings me to the actors. Ma Su was absolutely hilariously good as Bai. She imbued within Bai just the right amount of weirdness and love. It was easy to see how the two were friends. However, the stand out star in this entire movie, has to be Ni Ni. Ni Ni was absolutely phenomenal as both versions of Liang. Her body language, mannerisms, etc. were all so on-point when it came to both versions of Liang. You (or at least I did) literally believed that you were seeing 17 year old Liang and 28 year old Liang. Ni Ni carried the entire movie on her shoulders. Her acting completely elevated the movie I think, as the time travelling trope is old, but Ni Ni’s vigour and acting managed to make it feel fresh.The other actors were good as well, but none shone as brightly and wonderfully as her. The only actor I was a bit iffy about, was Wallace Huo as Mao. Wallace just came across as too stiff and stoic for me. Maybe Mao’s character was written that way or maybe Wallace didn’t have enough material? I don’t know, I just thought he was the weakest link, at least from the main cast.
And coming to the directing, I’m a big iffy on that as well. While there’s definitely quite a few beautifully shot and symbolic scenes, there’s also a few stereotypical shots. Idk. It’s not anything bad and I guess I’m just being nit-picky. Apparently the movie was the directorial debut of Zhang Mo. And I guess for her debut, she did a pretty decent job. Cinamatography was also quite top notch. I’m a fan of lighter, brighter movies and thankfully, this movie fit right into my preference. All in all, a beautifully light movie about the importance of self-love.
My rating: watch it to enjoy a fantastically cute character-focused movie with a nice message!