This review is a little late… but better late than never.
Upcoming Summer is a Chinese teen romance movie that talks about unrequited love. Chen Chen is a shy, introverted girl who lies about her relationship with the school celebrity and aspiring DJ, Zheng Yuxing. When this lie gets blown out of proportion, it leads to unexpected results.
What I love about this movie is that there’s no real antagonist. That may sound strange, but the entire film focuses on developing the relationship between the two leads. First, they start off as strangers, but they start fake dating.
It’s cliché, but stay with me. It gets better, I promise.
Yuxing recently broke up with a DJ, Ming, so he wants to use Chen Chen to make her jealous. Chen Chen blew an exam because she discovered her parents hid their impending divorce. So she uses Yuxing as a scapegoat.
These characters are very different, but they bond over their confusion on how they feel about their parents: Chen Chen with her parent’s divorce, and Yuxing’s overbearing, successful father.
Chen Chen and Yuxing’s chemistry is unreal. He plays the guitar for her, and they start singing together; he mixes a song for her on her birthday. I like the one scene where he talks back to the teacher because she wouldn’t let them sit together for fear that they would distract each other. I just… where was this love when I was in high school?
The real conflict comes when both are forced to confront their feelings. Yuxing is still pining over Ming, and Chen Chen has a crush on Yuxing. They make a rash decision to take a trip to an electronic music festival for Yuxing to confront her.
When Ming appears on stage, Yuxing faces the reality that they’ll never get back together. Chen Chen also confesses to Yuxing. They kiss, but right after, he looks at her and says he wishes that she was the person he fell in love with.
This scene was done so well. I felt their heartbreak. As much as I want them to end up together, it wouldn’t make sense in their situation, and it would reduce the film to a Hollywood cliché. I like how they still care about each other even after coming to terms with their reality.
When they technically ran away from home, their parents obviously came looking for them. Yuxing agrees to take the blame for their rash decision, but Chen Chen refuses. She also gets the courage to confront her mother about her feelings towards the divorce.
Interestingly, Ming doesn’t appear at all throughout the movie. She’s like this mysterious being constantly being mentioned, but you never know who she really is. Instead, the film focuses on the parallels between youth and adult relationships.
There are a few scenes showing Chen Chen’s complicated feelings about her parents’ divorce. Her parents’ relationships show a contrast between messy adult romantic relationships and the simplicity of youth relationships.
The only criticism I have is at the end in a random scene where Yuxing passes out, hinting that he may suffer from hearing problems. Not sure why this was incorporated. It didn’t do much for the overall plot considering it was at the end, and a time skip shows that he’s okay.
I really enjoyed Upcoming Summer. I watched it twice. It has a refreshing and realistic take on romance, and it’s one of the rare films that incorporates tropes and stereotypes in a sentimental and healthy way.