Forever Young 無問西東 (2018) - China
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
Filmed in 2011/12 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Tsinghua University, “Forever Young” was shelved for more than half a decade before its release. Despite its delayed release, the film was a box office hit in the Mainland, taking in more than $1 billion RMB. With a star studded cast composing of Zhang Ziyi, Huang Xiaoming, Chang Chen, Wang Leehom and Chen Chusheng, Director Li Fangfang didn’t take the simpler route of portraying simplified history, but instead recreated some important academic students of the past that made a difference to modern day China as it is. What I enjoyed about this film is the focus on characters and situations rather than plain patriotic canvas that is often seen in these kind of films. Clocking at over two and a half hour, “Forever Young” shows the inspiration and strength of both individuals and as a collective in key milestones in Chinese history over the past 100 years.
Zhang Zi Yi remains the biggest star in the film stars as one of the students during the 1960s being wrongly accused of adultery and almost resulted in her untimely death by public outcry and shaming. Despite being in her early 30s during the filming, Zhang is a bit too old to be casted as a student, but her acting more than compensate. Playing her love interest is Huang Xiao Ming, whose selfless love for Zhang is extremely convincing as well as the nuclear experiments that resulted in severe side effects. Chang Chen plays the modern day medical ad man who aims to make a difference by helping the delivery of 4 babies as well as assisting the poor rural family to set up city life. Wang Leehom plays plays the hopeful academic student who is focused to shift his focus to being a pilot to defend the his country against Japanese invasion during the times of the Second World War.
All in all, “Forever Young” contains many stories where the characters intervene one another and its this faintness interaction that ends up impacting each other lives dramatically. This is definitely an inspiring tale of how individuals can make a difference by pursuing their dreams and passions. It’s a nice departure from the usual patriotic affair and parts of the film does not always depict the people in power as politically correct. This adds to the credibility of the film and thus created characters we can related, even if they are perhaps too perfect.
I rated it 7.5/10
Directed by Li Fangfang. The film stars Zhang Ziyi, Huang Xiaoming, Chang Chen, Wang Leehom and Chen Chusheng