SINGAPORE - Movie Review. Drama/Romance.
TINY TIMES (PG)
116 minutes/In Cinemas/2 Stars
The story: Klutzy Lin Xiao (Yang Mi), rich girl Gu Li (Amber Kuo), beautiful Nan Xiang (Haden Kuo) and sporty Tang Wanru (Xie Yilin) have been best friends since high school. The four girls continue to be there for one another as they face challenges in love and life in college.
Directed by Guo Jingming based on his best-selling work of the same name.
Tiny Times is really a fantasy.
It is about the lifestyles of the young and rich and fabulous in modern-day Shanghai and audiences in China cannot get enough of it.
The movie has been breaking box-office records, grossing over 453 million yuan (S$92 million) so far. A sequel has just been released there last Thursday.
One can perhaps understand the burning curiosity to see how the moneyed and privileged class live. But the movie is so glib and shallow that it rings hollow.
It has also been criticised by some netizens for its unabashed materialism as the women, and men, swan about in branded labels and in luxurious living spaces.
In one cliched scene, Lin Xiao and gang cheer themselves up by playing dress-up, thanks to Gu Li's fabulous walk-in wardrobe.
Tiny Times also feels like a patchwork of ideas which cribs from various sources - from The Devil Wears Prada (2006) to Sex And The City (1998-2004).
Lin Xiao works as an assistant to the chief editor at a high-flying magazine even though she just started college and seems to have no relevant experience to speak of. Naturally, she gets to organise a major fashion event along with Gu Li, who is the queen bee among the girls.
Nan Xiang is a supposedly talented designer bogged down with a deadweight boyfriend, while Wanru is there mostly for grating over-the-top comic relief.
If you think the women are one-note characters, wait till you see the men.
As love interests for Lin Xiao and Gu Li respectively, earnest Jian Xi (Li Yueming) and smirky rich kid Gu Yuan (Kai Ko) barely register.
Meanwhile, Rhydian Vaughan is mostly required to be inscrutable and good-looking as Lin Xiao's eccentric boss.
The red-hot Chongguang (Cheney Chen) seems at first to be the most unbelievable among the characters.
A young writer who looks like a K-pop boyband member, wields a ridiculous amount of clout and lives in a lavish bachelor pad? Surely we are deep in fantasy land now.
Actually, he might be modelled after director Guo himself, who, come to think of it, could sneak into a boyband line-up without too much trouble.
But even with a kernel or two of truth, Tiny Times remains too big of a tale to swallow.
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