The Story of 90 Coins is a pristine capture of an imperfect romance. In an effort to win the reluctant Chen Wen, Wang Yuyang asks for 90 days to prove his love. He seemingly succeeds but all is not well once their relationship proceeds.
Competing affections and Chen Wen’s desire to follow her career cause a rift between the lovers, followed by a discovery which I will not spoil. Suffice to say the movie climaxes with a message imploring the audience to treasure the beautiful things instead of losing them forever.
Michael Wong, the director, is currently working as an independent filmmaker. He is, however, an experienced ad agency art and creative director. The succinct quality of the film, as well as the simplicity of the drama, makes this apparent. Adverts aim to simply communicate a message to the audience and The Story of 90 Coins also succeeds in this venture.
The meaning of the movie is implicit without any need to lead the audience by hand through the plot. This is achieved through Wong’s decisive direction as well as the performances of the actors which, while not understated, are communicative and emotionally clear. The combination of these skills is made especially apparent in the climax of the movie when Chen Wen is in the process of leaving for Paris to pursue her career. It’s a beautiful scene which harks back to modern romances such as The Notebook or even the final section of this advert for Extra Chewing Gum.
The simple beauty which permeates the film is no doubt a result of the cinematography. Director of Photography Jian Liwei produces a film where no shot seems arbitrary or make-do. This is apparent especially in the exposition when the camera work allows both actors to appear prominent whilst also showcasing the urban surroundings. A shot of Chen Wen where bokeh-ed out lights shine behind her sets the delicate romantic tone of the movie.
Later in the film, pristine white sets and actors dressed in black and white are visually extremely satisfying. Personally, the scene which I feel best captures the beautiful simplicity of the cinematography is one where the two leads stand outside a small shop sheltering from the rain. The contrast of the dark street and the white light of the shop is beautiful, combined with satisfyingly orange bottles of soda this section is a visual treat – one which feels quintessential to the overall meaning of the movie.
Overall The Story of 90 Coins sets out to satisfy and teach the audience a lesson and is successful. Like an instructional video for love, it implores the audience to fight for love when it becomes mundane and difficult. And also, to look more in depth at the gifts those we love to give us. To compress a full love story into 9 minutes is a feat in and of itself. But this movie never rushes and is all the sweeter for it.
By Delilah Niel