“Don’t let a promise become just a beautiful memory”, a poignant message from the Chinese short film The Story of 90 Coins. The directorial debut of Malaysian filmmaker Michael Wong, The Story of 90 Coins is quick with its pacing, and poetic with its words.
The film stars Han Dongjun and Zhuang Zhiqi as two young lovers in the modern world. The man makes a promise of never-ending love to the woman, love that he expresses over a period of ninety days. While all goes well in the beginning (with honest intentions of marriage in the future), reality sets in for our female lead, who chooses to follow her career aspirations over her partner.
Being just below ten minutes long, the audience isn’t given much time to grow attached to these characters. The film knows this, and does incredibly well at giving us the necessary details and personality traits of the characters so that we can feel invested in their relationship.
One slight issue the film comes across is that, while the characters are likable and work well together onscreen, the film’s pacing is somewhat off. Certain scenes or moments that should’ve gotten more attention are grazed over, while some scenes of lesser importance got more focus onscreen. Again, being restricted to only ten minutes in runtime, this is only a minute detail that is easily forgivable.
I have a particular admiration for films that give viewers an unconventional ending, especially when you’re expecting something far different than what you get. The Story of 90 Coins is one of those films. Instead of leaving the audience off on a romanticized and sentimental note, the film promptly shows us the realities of love, loss, and regret. And in the end, the audience is left with some wise words of caution, being not to break promises we may later regret. A simple, yet touching message.
The synthesized soundtrack that accompanies most of the film is definitely overemphasized, acting more as a hindrance than building any sort of drama. I feel that the film could’ve been even more emotional and effective, had it not been for the distracting music attempting to be dramatic.
The Story of 90 Coins is a short little drama that I found to have a high entertainment value. While the pacing and soundtrack aren’t utilized to their best potential, the true strengths of The Story of 90 Coins lie in the genuine acting and the powerfully woven message.
Check out The Story of 90 Coins here!
The Verdict: B