Sometimes the actual failure isn’t what’s most daunting. The self-destructive anticipation of failure and bystanders’ pitiful looks are what makes the word carry the weight it does. Without drawing attention to the “failed” aspect of an attempt, an attempt is just an attempt — a step, no different from another, of a continuous process.
Ah Yue failed at the performance, but the resulting relief he felt is priceless. He no longer permits the outcome of one performance to undermine his confidence because the satisfaction that he has done his very best is enough to be proud of.
But two people’s oppressing expectations are enough to make Ah Yue suppress the exaltation of personal growth.
Ah Yue confronts his two stressors and faces their anger and denial. Ah Yue’s mother is furious with her son’s display of incompetency. After two years of waiting, she is expecting Ah Yue to get back on his feet and dazzle like Apollo descending the sky from his high chariot. That didn’t happen and it makes her mad to think all her effort amounts to nothing. Rui Shan, on the contrary, exhibits a strange calmness. She approaches Ah Yue, all smiles and nods, and suggests that Ah Yue’s failure is not a sign of limitation, but the hallmark of a lack of practice. Delusional and a little pretentious.
“Don’t you two understand?” Ah Yue shouts, exasperated. “It’s my hand. It’s not the same.” “It cannot not be the same,” carefully holding Ah Yue’s right hand in both her palms, as if carrying something sacred, Rui Shan says, “without your hands, your life is ruined.” (Is she serious?!) To that, Ah Yue responds,
I’m not the old Cheng Yue anymore. Right now, I’m living the life I want to live. If you two can’t accept that, then please, leave me.
Even when Ah Yue is being über explicit, the two women cannot come to respect Ah Yue’s choice. (Come ON people, he’s not a three-year-old, he is perfectly capable of making his own life choices!)
The interrogation failed communication attempt segues into a discussion of Ah Yue’s feeling towards Xiao Lu. Ah Yue admits to liking Xiao Lu beyond mere friendship. Xiao Lu’s clumsiness as she enters the bar puts an end to Rui Shan’s shock. She steps up to blame Xiao Lu, dumping all her dissatisfaction on the faultless escape-Bambi.
Why can’t you accept the Ah Yue now? Is his life only limited to piano? You can’t love his glory and evade his sadness. I’m certain that not being able to play piano again pains Ah Yue more than any one of you.
Speaking up only intensifies Rui Shan’s resentment. She proceeds to blame Xiao Lu for everything — her lost dream, Ah Yue’s hand, her missed romantic relationship with Ah Yue, and everybody’s unhappiness… The next 849384329439 minutes is composed of Rui Shan bitching at Xiao Lu and everybody hurting everybody and everybody crying over everybody. (Makes me wonder why I’m even recapping this. I can put my time to better use than watching a bunch of emotionally immature characters being a pain in the ass to each other because they can’t adapt to the changes in life.)
Xiao Lu bursts out of the door after apologizing to Rui Shan. Ah Yue chases after, but Xiao Lu feels responsible for the changes in Ah Yue’s life and suggests that the two of them keep a distance. Ah Yue protests vehemently, “Why must the people who should keep a distance keep trying to get closer and the one who should not keep a distance keeps distancing herself from me?”
“You can’t like me,” Xiao Lu mutters meekly. “I already do.” Comes the determined reply. “Don’t like me. You can’t…” she begs, “because I can’t, I don’t, I won’t…” “Why do you resent me so much!?” Ah Yue cuts her off violently, not wanting to hear another negation. “I can give you the best reason: I’m ill.”
Like that, he carries her on piggy back and walks around and around the building, not wanting to part with her, afraid that once he does, she’ll disappear into the woods and never be found again…
Ah Yue didn’t come back that night. His mother waited at the bar. In the morning, she finally decides she will go find him instead. But when she sees her son engrossed in an embrace with Xiao Lu across the street, she walks up, separates them, and slaps Xiao Lu hard on the cheek. Ah Yue ushers his mother away to spear Xiao Lu of further embarrassment. Behind them, Xiao Lu firmly announces, “Ah Yue and I will never be together.”
To push the idea of a fruitless relationship, Xiao Lu shows Ah Yue and his mother her diagnosis. Although recognizing her previous behavior as cruel, Ah Yue’s mother stands by her conviction that Ah Yue and Xiao Lu are not fit to be together and expresses so. Later in the day, Ah Yue’s mother calls Rui Shan and in an insensitive manner, appeases Rui Shan that Dong Xiao Lu is on the verge of death, Ah Yue will turn around soon. A disillusioned Shi Chuan listens on the side.
Miserable and worried, Ah Yue visits the child piano prodigy and brings him back to the bar to teach him piano. The child’s grandma comes to pick the child up and is worried about paying for piano lesson. When Ah Yue assures her he requires no payment, she protests, explaining that while thrifty, she doesn’t like to take advantage of people. Ah Yue considers it for a second and suggests that in return, the grandmother can bring him pancakes. “Then I’ll bring 30 each time.” “No no no no no, I can’t eat all that.” “Then I’ll bring 50.” “Er, what?” At that point, both the grandma and Ah Yue break into laughter. Overjoyed, the child asks for Ah Yue’s phone to call Xiao Lu, wanting to share the good news with her. Xiao Lu is sitting in the living room doing muscle exercises, she misses the call and inadvertently causes Ah Yue to misinterpret it as Xiao Lu trying to avoid him.
Meanwhile, Xiao Lu is starting to exhibit difficulties with motor execution. Her father puts on a big smile and provides Xiao Lu with the warmest moral support, but deep down, it hurts twice as much to see the genetic disorder that killed his wife to take his daughter’s life little by little.
That night Xiao Lu remembers her ex boyfriend… She remembers the one night when she’s staying up late to finish up a drawing. She remembers making him stay with her until she finishes her work. She remembers herself praying to the sky for the next day to be a sunny day. She remembers him making 18 dolls and hanging them in the room because she had said “please don’t rain tomorrow” 18 times…
She smiled to herself at those happy memories and found the strength to carry on.
The next day at the company, when Ah Yue hears that Xiao Lu has come back to work, he bursts into the room where Xiao Lu is, completely overlooking the fact that she is discussing a plan with her boss. Feeling inappropriate at the outburst, Ah Yue apologizes and exits. Then remembering something, he reopens the door and puts down two dried up apples. “I bought these on the way to work. Here you go, one for each.” Looking down at the apple in hand, Xiao Lu smiles.
Ta-da! End of recap!
Frankly I think this entire script is teenage angst material with a badly executed theme hiding behind all the yelling and crying. What makes it so out of balance is the fact that while the storyline is largely juvenile, the actors themselves fall under a certain age range that demands for a more mature plot.
On the other hand, an inferior plot and poor acting skills are tolerable, but the one thing that really disturbs me about this drama is how the actors deliver their lines. Terri Kwan (Xiao Lu) tends to speed up her temple and slur her speech when she has a long line to deliver, especially during voice overs. I think the purpose of having a voice over aside from being a storytelling style and an explanatory media, is to help create mood. By slurring the speech, the audiences aren’t given a chance to immerse themselves in the setting provided on camera. But at least, Terri Kwan doesn’t have a problem with pronounciation. Alice Ceng (Rui Shan) and Chen Zhi Kai (Shi Chuan) have problems pronouncing certain phonemes (like “sh” and “s”, “zh” and “z”). This is different from someone intentionally trying to mimick an accent to disclose geographic information. Imagine someone trying to deliver a line to convey passion but mispronouncing every three words — that totally takes away from the feeling the dialogue is supposed to create, no matter how well the actual line is written.