Better Days (2020): Derek Tsang’s Oscar Nominated Powerful Drama about Bullying and Its Effects

From Our Vaults:

Derek Tsang directed Better Days, a Chinese crime melodrama, written by Lam Wing Sum, Li Yuan and Xu Yimeng.

Based on the Chinese young adult novel “In His Youth, In Her Beauty” (literally “The Youthful You, So Beautiful”) by Jiu Yuexi, the film stars Zhou Dongyu and Jackson Yee.

The socially relevant tale follows a high school girl struggling with severe bullying and the pressure of upcoming college entrance exams, whose life becomes intertwined with that of a teenage street thug.

One of the most highly anticipated Chinese films due to its leads Zhou Dongyu and Jackson Yee’s immense popularity, the film became a pop culture phenomenon in China as well as a box office hit, grossing globally a total of $230.1 million.

A critical success, the film was chosen as the official entry for Hong Kong for the 2020 Best International Feature Film.

It became the third Hong Kong entry in history to be Oscar nominated (27 years after Farewell My Concubine, which was the second).  The winner, however, was the Danish film, Another Round.

The film was the first nominated entry directed by a Hong Kong native rather than by a Mainland Chinese director.

After her classmate, Hu Xiaodie, commits suicide because of school bullying, Chen Nian becomes the new victim of “queen bee” and vicious school bully Wei Lai and her friends.

Chen Nian sees a teenage thug, Liu Beishan, aka “Xiao Bei,” beaten in the streets by rival thugs. She attempts to call the police but then she is attacked by the thugs as well. The attackers mock her trying to save Xiao Bei and beat both of them until they finally get Chen Nian to kiss Xiao Bei as a way to humiliate them.

Better Days was released on October 25, 2019, in China, and on  November 8, 2019, in the U.S.