Better Days ★★★★

Better Days is an amazing story about the immense pressure put on Chinese youth, bullying, and love. The film is full of absolutely gorgeous urban night-time shots and the camerawork never gets boring. The performances by Dongyu Zhou as Chen Nian, the bullied schoolgirl studying for the college entrance exam; and Jackson Yee as Xiao Bei, the small-time criminal, social outcast, who through happenstance ends up protecting Chen Nian, are world-class. Their performances are absolutely amazing.

The film might be long, over two hours, but it's one of the rare examples of where it's justified. We're given well-placed breathing room, accompanied by Varqa Buehrer's beautiful score, and the story never ceases to be engaging. The one flaw the film has is perhaps that it has a few too many endings. It ties its loose ends together, but a few of them are laid out like endings instead of parts of the story.

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