“Don’t conceal your distress, grief, and anguish; for their existence attest the vitality of life. They are the bearer of the good news that you are still here with me — they are the testimony of our love.” Positioning himself in front of Xiao Lu’s wheelchair, Ah Yue whispers softly but surely. “Then why doesn’t this album contain any of your photos? Haven’t you received my present?” Xiao Lu musters to ask. “I have,” he replies, “What you’ve given me is the best gift I will ever possess and that, is you.”
Ah Yue, can I ask you for a present?
What kind of present?
I want to see your home town, just one more time. I want to see you and your mother on good terms again.
In the subsequent days, the packing, the paper work, the visa, and the plane tickets are dealt with and taken care of. Xiao Lu is ready to hop on the plane and spend the best vacation of her life with the man she loves the most.
Although the airport reunion with Rui Shan and Shi Chuan is awkward, Xiao Lu adapts quickly. (Can’t let the ex-lover and the ex-lover’s lover ruin THE single most significant, once in a lifetime trip!)
But the tough part has yet to come:
Living up to her tough-mother’s name, Ah Yue’s mom chooses the silent treatment and ignores the couple all together. But this, doesn’t seem to affect happy little Bambi and her protector all that much. At least, not on the exterior.
They find their laughter looking at Ah Yue’s baby pictures. (As supposedly poor as Ah Yue is, his house is rather big.)
Since it’s bad for business to have a wheelchair moving leisurely about the eatery, Xiao Lu volunteers to tour around the suburb while Ah Yue stays in to help his mother. (So he can work towards reestablishing a good relationship with the mother.) To lessen Ah Yue’s worry about her safety, Xiao Lu asks Rui Shan to accompany her on the mini excursions. This creates a perfect opportunity for the two girls to bond after so much has happened between them. Rui Shan apologizes for her past behavior; Xiao Lu forgives her and wishes her well.
To Xiao Lu’s mentioning of Shi Chuan, Rui Shan smiles widely. She admits that once she realized how silly she was to cling on to the beautiful dream she weaved around herself and Ah Yue, she was able to find happiness with Shi Chuan.
In the eatery, Ah Yue cooks lunch for his mother.
The two of them eat together for the first time in a very long time. Watching his mother taking a bite, Ah Yue’s eyes reddens. Slowly, he starts,
Mom, you were right when you said being with Xiao Lu will be hard. It has been very, very hard. Many times, I felt like I can’t do it anymore… Then suddenly I understood how you felt when you tried to stop me. Whenever I wanted to pick up the phone and hear your voice, I remembered how hard it was for you to raise me single handed…
Swallowing down the tears, the mom says softly, “Hurry and eat, it doesn’t taste as well when it’s cold.”
Yes, Xiao Lu is in a wheelchair and yes, being in a wheelchair limits the range of places she can visit, but the baseball field is always going to be one of the few places she can be at ease and feel connected with Ah Yue. (Yes, they always wear matching colors and yes, she always wears a lighter shade of the same color.)
So Ah Yue plays with the local kids and Xiao Lu watches:
Then Rui Shan, Shi Chuan, and Ah Yue’s mother who got dragged out by the persuasive couple join the audience.
Watching her son loosening up and enjoying himself like a carefree child, the mother finally smiles.
The baseball game certainly has a cathartic effect on Ah Yue’s mother. To renew the gratification of simply seeing a loved one being happy is like an instant weight-losing pill for her. Not that she needs one, but it did help to shed some of the suffocating burdens laid upon her as a result of poor communication. Consequently, her biased perspective towards Xiao Lu starts to shift.
Silence doesn’t necessarily indicate distaste; sometimes, it’s a sign of acceptance.
Xiao Lu volunteers to help Ah Yue’s mom with making the dessert that’s sold everyday. Through cooperative work, making mistakes, and laughing them off, the three of them walk out of that kitchen feeling a lot closer than they had been in years. Ah Yue’s mother starts to take the initiative to look after Xiao Lu — wiping Xiao Lu’s mouth for her after eating, helping her bathe — all the previous awkwardness are lifting layer by layer…
Then, with his mother’s acceptance and support, Ah Yue proposes to Xiao Lu.
“Marry me”, he says, “then, continue breathing for me.”
“I will always remember to keep breathing,” she replies after recollecting her emotion, “for you, I will.”
With everyone’s blessing, the wedding is underway. Yi Xin, Da Hong, Rui Shan, Si Chuan, even Ah Yue and Xiao Lu’s coworkers jump in on the wedding preparation like it’s one of their own.
Then a rain changes everything and pulls everyone out of their jolly mood…
That day, after arriving in Shanghai where the wedding will take place, Ah Yue and Xiao Lu decide to pay Xiao Lu’s father a visit at his work place. He is taking wedding photos for a pair of lovers in a park. To not disturb his father’s work, Xiao Lu decides to wait for him to finish and in the meantime, enjoy the green scenery under the mackerel sky. After a bit of waiting, Ah Yue leaves to buy Xiao Lu a drink — this is when it all went wrong.
It starts to rain, pouring rain. Xiao Lu tries to move to a shaded area, but by this time, the road is extremely slippery as a result of the rain. In the process of moving, one of her wheels slipped, causing the entire wheelchair to tip over the side of the road and fall. Xiao Lu flew out of the chair, she dropped to the ground, tumbled down the slop of the grass, and rolled until the force of the fall slowly comes to a halt.
She lies there, helpless and bruised. She can hear Ah Yue’s worrisome voice over the clamorous tapping of the raindrops, calling out for her, searching for her in near hysteria. She struggles to make a sound, but nothing came. She waited, her tears and the rain fuse together, indistinguishable…
Then, she loses consciousness.
When she wakes up, she is in the hospital, surrounded by teary faces and connected to a breathing device. She knew she doesn’t have much time left…
When I stop breathing, remember to look up at the stars…
Each time you take a breath, remember how much Xiao Lu loves you…
Three days later, taking everyone’s love with her, Xiao Lu closes her eyes forever.
“Great love prevails all” is the kind of theme that either makes or breaks.
The elemental aspect that dictates the conviction of this theme in situ is the acting. With good acting, bumps incurred by obstacles can be smoothed over and the viewers can accept — if not wholeheartedly believe — that the love is strong enough, patient enough, to withstand the vortex of trouble and stand tall at the apex of it all.
With poor acting, in contrast, the skepticism inevitably surfaces: if I, as a viewer, can’t feel the chemistry between characters, despite being constantly TOLD that it exists, then how will I be convinced that this love is indeed different from any other? That is, the feelings of affection WILL survive reality’s belaboring instead of fading and turning into rigid responsibility, or worse yet, into burden?
So, was I wooed in the end? I’m afraid not. And that brings me back not to the script (I can tolerate that), not to the directing (although it isn’t spectacular either), but to the nagging problem of acting. I appreciate angst only when it’s played well but unfortunately, it isn’t here.