I thought Chan Ho-sun’s latest movie, American Dreams in China, would be a more masculine version of Zhao Wei’s So Young. But not quite, as it turns out.
Although the film depicts a nostalgic campus life full of idealism for the future and the impulses of love, the story is more about starting out after innocent youth has faded.
Through the intertwined destinies of the movie’s protagonists, the audience witnesses a triangle of friendship, career ambitions and personal dreams seemingly collapse as three best friends desperately try to tie and twist these elements together.
That’s why Wang Yang (Tong Dawei), one of the three best friends, who start a business together, shares this lesson of life: “Never start a business with your best friends.”
He may be right. After all, no matter how close they are, differences in their professional and personal aspirations can drive friends apart. Every individual has a distinct outlook on the world and their future, which determines the trajectory of their career and life.
Without knowing of Meng Xiaojun’s (Deng Chao) struggles in the US and his disillusion toward the country, there’s no way Cheng Dongqing (Huang Xiaoming) can understand why Meng is pushing all the agendas so hard. The parting of the invincible trio, to some extent, is predestined.
Even so, despite these differences, friendship always prevails. Cheng’s difficulties become a podium on which the three friends stand together. It’s through the emotional connection they developed over many years that they finally overcome their differences and reform the alliance.
What the film tries to convey is the triumph of brotherhood, which dates back to our naive, passionate youth when unconditional bonds of emotion are shaped.
So the film was never about business after all.