It’s disappointing that even in 2015 society expects Chinese women to be “redeemed” in marriage and saved by their husbands. But that tired view is exactly what we see in the latest TV drama Let’s Get Married and its same-titled film counterpart.
Screened on April 2, Let’s Get Married (咱们结婚吧) is the work of director Liu Jiang. The film assembles an impressive cast of the most popular young Chinese film stars to string together four entirely unrelated stories.
If we stopped there, it would sound a lot like the British film Love Actually. But where Love Actually is heartwarming, Let’s Get Married is without a heart.
The story is an empty recreation of Cinderella where four female characters – whether young or old, or rich or poor – are presented as inferior people who have to be rescued by the male leads.
Ye Wenwen (Gao Yuanyuan) plays a manager at a wedding dress store and her “Mr. Right” Chen Zhenxuan (Jiang Wu) is a talented dress designer who specializes on attire for second weddings.
When Ye sinks into despair at the sight of her ex and his new girl, Chen sweeps in to rescue her. In one scene, when the new girl forces Ye to drink with her at her wedding, Ye faints and Chen zooms in to carry her away.
Exactly what is the likelihood that your ex-boyfriend will book his new bride’s wedding dress at your store, and that you would actually swoon from a single drink? That’s what viewers are being asked to swallow, and it’s neither convincing nor romantic.
The second love story between Wen Yi (Guo Biting) and Li Xiang (Li Chen) fares little better.
Wen is a violinist who goes to Italy for a violin competition where she meets Li Xiang, a “promising” art student. Wen is upset about losing the competition, and Li, seems to have been created purely to belittle her understanding of art. He takes her to see street artists and says, “This is real art; this is a part of their life.”
Will someone who has studied violin for 10 years really be enlightened by such a cliché scene? The romance isn’t any more believable, with forced flirting and awkward hikes that attempt to sell the audience on the idea that Wen’s fling is strong enough to shake a seven-year romance and engagement.
Gu Xiaolei (Chen Yihan) in the third part is presented as a doe-eyes marriage maniac with no goal other than to get a ring on the finger of her handsome co-pilot boyfriend Lin Xiao (Zhen Kai).
Tian Haixin (Liu Tao) is the only female character designed as more successful than her male counterpart. Of course, that means her character has to be a stereotypical businesswoman with anger management problems.
While most viewers lashed out at the movie for its unabashed chauvinism, there were a few who found it touching.
If we completely ignore the plot, we can find a few sweet moments when Lin Xiao embraces his girl while she is crying. But these sweet moments last no more than 5 seconds and are constantly interrupted by bad editing.
In the end, Let’s Get Married stands as another entry in the Chinese media’s 2015 War on Single Women that began with the Spring Festival Gala.
The unpopular fact is that there are 33 million more men than women in China. With that kind of demand, China’s women might be staying single for a reason.
It’s about time that China’s filmmakers “man up” and explore why.