Somewhere Only We Know full movie review - Unmissable - One of the Best Films I've Seen in 2015
Falling in love, falling out of love, lost love, letting go and moving on are many of the themes explored in Somewhere Only We Know, a film that wears many hats, a statement t
hat could be equally made about lead male actor Kris Wu, who portrays Peng Zeyang; single father to his daughter, Ni Ni (Sophia Cai Shuya), carer for his bipolar suffering mother (Cong Shan), friend of fellow professional musician Luo (Juck Zhang), and paramour of Jin Tian (Wang Likun).
Initially, Jin is not the kind of woman one would imagine having a relationship with Peng. Bereft, from been rejected by her fiancé, she arrives in Prague with the intention of starting over, wanting to dramatically alter her appearance and lifestyle choices in an attempt to forget the past, her unorthodox approaches leading her into the arms of Peng, who, rather than taking advantage of her, becomes a close friend, though neither of them can deny the feelings they begin to mutually exhibit.
The feature illustrates the burdening pain Jin experiences in a realistically effective manner, revealing, through several of its characters, the effects that depression and loss can have over a person. While in Prague, Jin receives a letter addressed to her recently deceased grandmother, Lanxin (Xu Jinglei), who was her adult guardian while she was growing up. Wanting to discover the truth behind such a mystery, her grandmother having kept her romantic history close to her chest, Jin gains the assistance of Peng, in trying to find Josef Novak (Gordon Alexander), the man who wrote the deeply heartfelt message, their story, set in the late 1940s, being conveyed in flashbacks over the film's duration.
The seamless incorporation of past and present is beautifully articulated, both stories mirroring and scaffolding each other. The talent exhibited by the actors is incredibly immersive, as is their undeniable chemistry, and the well written script makes for enjoyable banter, deeply thought-provoking conversation, and poignant emotion. The deeply romantic philosophies, sentiments and ideas depicted in the film are refreshingly inspirational, sweet and poetic, and have the potential to encourage anyone to renew their faith in romance.
Though all of the characters are provided enough screen time for the audience to sympathize with and appreciate them, more screen time could have been given to Peng's mother and daughter, and the same could be said for Jin's friend Shanshan (Re Yizha). The story of Josef and Lanxin is beautifully warm and strikingly emotional, despite their experiences being conveyed in only a few scenes, depicted only in a couple of varying settings. This being said, additional attention could have been applied to their backstory to assist the audience in connecting additionally with the affection they held for each other. Moreover, the same could be said for the references to the second world war, that are only briefly mentioned, though, due to its paramount role in human history, deserved further contextualization, in regards to what it meant to the characters.
The settings articulate the beauty of Prague, from its cobbled streets, to its rich architecture and vibrant natural environments, and make for an enjoyable background. In this sense, the film is perhaps, in part, a marketing tool, advertising for Chinese viewers, the beauty and excitement of tourism. The experiences are all relevant and meaningful when in conjunction with the characters, while the film's ending beautifully concludes the feature with much emotional depth, the tenderness and poignancy exhibited throughout necessitating the audience to perhaps come equipped with a tissue, or ten.
Though the film is centered around young adults, the story is powerfully mature, and despite the trailer promoting Somewhere Only We Know as more of a comedy, the film is unmistakably a drama, and is one of those rare films, that, upon conclusion, will leave you wanting to see it all over again. Though everyone will leave the film with a different impression, for me, the feature conveys the many qualities that cause me to be so attracted to Chinese culture...and Chinese women.