If you’re somehow familiar with my taste in movies, you must know that I’m a sucker for coming of age romcoms. This is why Love the Way You Are, a Chinese love story about two next-door neighbors who unwittingly fall in love with each other when they’re miles away from home was an automatic addition to my watchlist. By its end, there were no regrets, only smiles.
Synopsis: Zhou Linlin (Vivian Sung) is a bad student in school but super popular in her neighborhood for being tough and generous with her friends. Fang Yu Ke (Song Wei Long) is her nerdy next door neighbor who is always at the top of the class and is also an ideal son. When Linlin’s mom finally has enough of her happy go lucky ways, she orders her daughter to study just as hard as Yu Ke and makes it a condition that she studies and stops only when he does. By some miracle, they both get to the same university and the same college after they graduate. Their adventures begin anew at China Eastern University.
I loved Vivian Sung in Our Times because of her natural charm and great acting and I loved her as the mischievous, energetic goddess of justice Linlin in Love the Way You Are. This movie, adapted from the novel Peking University Students, was very light but aptly explored the evolution of Linlin and Yu Ke’s relationship from childhood to their college days.
First off, I loved Linlin and Yu Ke’s innocence and general cluelessness when it comes to understanding each other’s feelings. It was actually kind of realistic because teens usually take a while before they fully grasp the development and magnitude of their feelings for each other. While it was no secret to audiences whom Yu Ke really liked, it was still nice to see each sweet scene unfold and each romantic gesture revealed.
The story didn’t try to make things too complicated but there was an underlining sense of sincerity in the characters and their actions that viewers like myself could not resist. When it was revealed what lengths Yu Ke actually took to get closer to his next door neighbor, it melted me into a puddle.
There was great chemistry between Vivian Sung and Song Wei Long. They looked good together before and after Yu Ke’s transformation from an ugly duckling to an actual heartthrob and I liked that they presented Linlin’s character not as an ugly duckling as well, but just as someone who did not prioritize her looks over everything else. This highlighted her contrast with Ruting all the more and made audiences cheer for her even louder.
I liked the way the story was told in a lighthearted manner like it was a narration from a comic book. I think China has perfected the formula for heartwarming romcoms that manage to connect to the audience effectively. They are actually better at these films than they are at full-length dramas. Without the extended beauty shots and filler scenes, Love the Way You Are simply told a sweet and innocent story about the strength of first love and protecting the one you love. I’m actually saying AWWW as I write this. They also had great cinematography and a solid soundtrack and that’s always a plus for any film.
All in all, Love the Way You Are is far from rocket science but it manages to connect the audience to that carefree and innocent part of their youth to reminisce the joy of falling in love for the first time. It was not without its heartbreaking moments, thanks mainly to Vivian Sung’s great acting, but I would still say this is the perfect movie to watch if ever you’re in need of a pick me up after a bad day. It will definitely put a smile on your face.
Check out the trailer but I seriously recommend you see the full movie: