Six Years, Six Days
China, 2017, colour, 2.35:1, 91 mins.
Director: Shen Dong 沈东.
Routine, highly schematic melodrama generates no chemistry between its two leads.
Beijing, 8 Aug 2012. After four years, former Olympic volunteers Lu Yuan (Wang Xiao) and Song Xiaoduo (Jiang Ruijia) bump into each other while on a nostalgic visit to the main stadium. He came to attend a reunion dinner; but she didn’t attend, and is leaving the next day for Columbia University in the US. They go to her nearby hotel to clean his shirt that she accidentally stained, and promise to meet in exactly a year’s time in front of the same hotel. He had fancied her when they were both volunteers but thought she was dating his best friend Yu Fan (Gao Yunxiang). 2013. On 8 Aug, Song Xiaoduo flies into Beijing as promised and calls Lu Yuan, saying she’s lost all her money. For the past year, at the insistence of his father Lu Yongming (Wu Gang), he’s been working as a government rep in Xianyu village alongside childhood friend Feng Yuan (Gong Jie), who sees him as her ticket to the future. He comes into Beijing to meet Song Xiaoduo and puts her up at the flat he and his father share, to the annoyance of the latter. 2014. On 8 Aug, Song Xiaoduo arrives with a small US team she’s formed to invest in Xianyu village’s dried-fruit business and tourism potential. Lu Yuan’s father is also there to welcome them. That day Lu Yuan argues with his father, Feng Yuan and even the villagers, and Feng Yuan then announces her future marriage to Lu Yuan. 2015. On 8 Aug, Song Xiaoduo arrives for the wedding of Yu Fan to a former Olympic volunteer. Lu Yuan is also there and tells her he hasn’t yet married Feng Yuan, who is moving back to Beijing. He says he and Song Xiaoduo should stop their annual meetings. 2016. On 8 Aug, following the death of his father, Lu Yuan texts Song Xiaoduo. She’s in the south, introducing boyfriend Ren Shuai (Tian Muchen), one of the investment team, to her family, but she immediately gets on a plane to Beijing when she sees Lu Yuan’s message. 2017. Lu Yuan is comfortably settled in Xianyu village with the investment project and Song Xiaoduo is now based in Beijing working for the Belt & Road Project. Then Ren Shuai visits Xianyu village.
Based on the romantic staple of two friends meeting in the same place, same time, every year, Six Years, Six Days 6年6天 is more interested in showcasing China’s economic development than generating any chemistry between its undeclared lovers. A highly schematic, scarcely believable melodrama, it’s less notable for its main story than for its huge number of cameo appearances more suited to a CNY comedy – over 50, including 14 faked vox-pops by celebrities commenting on changes in Mainland life the past six years. Routinely written and directed by Shen Dong 沈东, who’s more at home making military dramas (Death and Glory in Changde 喋血孤城, 2010; The Space Dream 飞天, 2011), it registered only a tiny blip (RMB12 million) on Mainland release.
Aside from the by-the-numbers script, the main problem is the zero chemistry generated by the two leads, both in leading film roles for the first time. Wang Xiao 王骁, 39, is a rather charmless actor who’s not best suited to romantic parts and for most of the time is dour and ungiving as the dutiful government worker with a suppressed passion for his onetime Olympic colleague. Also better known on TV, 26-year-old actress Jiang Ruijia 姜瑞佳, who played the teenage daughter in The Space Dream as well as a supporting role in Shen’s recent war drama A Promise to the Kurichenko’s 相伴库里申科 (2015), tries to be bright and warm but ends up looking and sounding forced. The two roles would actually have been better played by the stars’ two supports – actress-presenter Gong Jie 龚洁, who comes over believably as a sympathetic but ambitious childhood friend, and TV actor Gao Yunxiang 高云翔, who has plenty of charm as a womanising best pal. As the lead’s stern father and devoted Party worker, veteran character actor Wu Gang 吴刚 (the mayor in White Deer Plain 白鹿原, 2012; the father in Dinner for Six 六人晚餐, 2016) checks in fine. Technical credits are just OK.
Presented by China Film (CN), China Movie Channel (CN), Joyful Spirit Pictures (Beijing) (CN), Tianjin North Film Group (CN), Qingdao Shengbaolong Film & TV Culture Media Investment (CN), Zhejiang John Sachs Movie & TV Culture (CN), Jiangsu Sino-Han Cultural Investment (CN). Produced by Joyful Spirit Pictures (Beijing) (CN).
Script: Shen Dong, Zhang Wuhua, Ju Yi’na. Photography: Long Shensong, Zhao Fan. Editing: Sun Defu, An Xiaoyu, Chang Zhichao. Music: Zhang Qian. End-titles music: Luo Maishuo, Wang Haitao. Art direction: Zhou Yao. Costumes: Shao Ning. Sound: An Chao, An Shaofeng, Li Xiao. Executive direction: Cui Zhe.
Cast: Wang Xiao (Lu Yuan), Jiang Ruijia (Song Xiaoduo), Wu Gang (Lu Yongming, Lu Yuan’s father), Gao Yunxiang (Yu Fan), Feng Yuanzheng (Zhang, company director), Wu Jun (Liu Er, village accountant), Gong Jie (Feng Yuan), Tian Muchen (Ren Shuai), Ma Keyue (Song Xiaoduo’s aunt), Wang Guodong (Xiaowang, waiter), Ailiya (Ai, village woman), Shi Lei (best man), Cong Shan (Cong, village woman), Zhu Sha (Mrs. Zhu, village cadre), Zhu Shuojia (Mr. Zhu, village cadre), Liu Jizhong (Song Xiaoduo’s uncle), Li Dongxue (best man), Li Baihui (Song Xiaoduo’s assistant), Maria (Jennifer, US investor), Su Li (Su, village woman), Zhang Yishan (Xiaozhang, doorman), Zhang Shan (hotel guest), Zhang Mu (Song Xiaoduo’s grandfather), Zhang Kaili (Song Xiaoduo’s mother), Zhang Xiwen (bridesmaid), Qiu Lin (Zhang Keke), Miao Pu (Miao, village woman), Miao Miao (Zhang, village woman), Shan Shuang (bridesmaid), Zheng Hao (best man), Zhao Yihan (bridesmaid), Zhao Chengxi (Song Xiaoduo’s niece), Zhao Baole (Zhou, farmer), Bao Jianfeng (best man), Sa Rina (hotel guest), Cao Yueyao (hotel receptionist), Dong Suting (female assistant), Jiang Jing (bridesmaid), Xie Fang (Song Xiaoduo’s grandmother), Xie Mengwei (Xiaoxie, doorman), Cai Dongmei (hotel guest), Pan Yueming (Pan, farmer), Ju Yi’na (Olympic volunteer), Ji Gang (Xiaoji, village cadre), Liu Yating (bridesmaid), Wang Tong, Zhou Xiaobin. Interviewees: Che Yongli (hotel manager), Wang Jia (mother), Niu Ben (marriage registrant), Sun Qian (restaurateur), Feng Shaofeng (programme host), Jiang Yiyan (actress), Zhu Xu (online gamer), Tong Liya (librarian), Zhao Liying (stage actress), Xu Jian (father), Jiang Mengjie (online businesswoman), Yan Danchen (antiquarian), Wei Yi (Beijing Film Academy teacher), Qu Ying (medical worker).
Release: China, 17 Oct 2017.