Upcoming Summer (2021) review – a passionate summer of finding one’s truth

October 3, 2021
Christina Geani 0
Film Reviews, Netflix


Upcoming Summer is an imperfect movie with genuine intention. It’s a story that resonates with the younger generation about finding the courage to be more honest with yourself and face the reality of growing up.

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Upcoming Summer is an imperfect movie with genuine intention. It’s a story that resonates with the younger generation about finding the courage to be more honest with yourself and face the reality of growing up.

This review of Upcoming Summer is spoiler-free.

They say enjoy your youth while it lasts because it’s the most beautiful time of our lives. Our youth is as radiant as the sun, as fierce as the waves that crash through the shores. It is where we learn to find our identity and fill our hearts with infinite desire and curiosity. It’s the fragile time where we get swept by the waves of emotions and dreams. Talking about the youthful days, what are the craziest things that you do during the end of your time at high school? Well, if it’s about failing your exams, then Upcoming Summer is here to tell you: It’s okay, things like this happen. Our failure might be the beginning of something exciting. 

Upcoming Summer is Netflix’s coming-of-age film directed and written by Taiwanese Director Leste Chen, famously known for Eternal Summer (2004). It’s an endearing story of two high school teenagers, Chen Chen (Zhang Zifeng) and Zheng Yu-Xing (played by China’s Little Brother, Leo Wu Lei), who encounter and face a jarring reality together. 

Chen Chen is a model student who surprisingly fails her college entrance examination due to a fever during the exam day. She crosses paths with Zhen Yu-Xing, a popular and rebellious boy at school who is purposely skipping the exams. To avoid her parent’s questions, Chen Chen lies about having a relationship with Zhen Yu-Xing as the reason behind her failure. Who would have thought that one lie could lead to a journey that forms a deep friendship? Chen Chen and Zhen Yu-Xing learn how to rely on each other as they are stepping into the transition of a radiant world of youth to a more complicated, black and white world of adulthood. 

The film explores how the youth perceives and understands love and dreams. Rather than turning it into another romantic teen film, Upcoming Summer is going deeper to resonate with the youth communities. Avoiding the cliches, it unravels the other side of the world of youth. It’s a film that expresses the struggle of facing ourselves while untangling our desire and emotions especially when it comes to love. 

Throughout the film, the story leads us to dive into the frailty of dreams between Chen Chen and Zhen Yu-Xing; how we get so lost in fantasizing about someone else’s realities as if it’s our own. Other than the beauty of youth, the film also offers us the dynamics and different perspectives about how adults perceive love and family affairs through the world of the parents.

Chen Chen’s mother (played by Hao Lei) is an essential character that balance the perspective of how the youth and adult work. Yes, there are slight plotholes, especially surrounding Zhen Yu-Xing’s background story and relationship with his father. But Leo Wui did a decent job at delivering the frailty of his characters. His sensitivity drives the characters, adding charm to the movie itself. The film starts with a strong pivot. yet it gets a little bit shallow and rushes from the middle towards the end when the conflict start to arise. 

The cinematography compliments the range and depth of emotion on the scene. It primarily uses orange and blue tones. Orange represents the warmth, illumination, passion of youth and summer. Meanwhile, blue gives us a touch of sensitivity, cold, ambiguity, and vague feelings of stepping into the harsh truth of realities. Of course, to add more flavors, there are the uses of attractive and refreshing lightings and CGI effects to fits the vibes of Summer’s party. Upcoming Summer also provides us with fresh, vibrant, western electronic music that fits the youth theme. It is intentional since it represents Zhen Yu-Xing’s dreams to be an aspiring DJ. The louder, the better.

Upon its theater release in August, Upcoming Summer is the second highest-grossing movie in China’s box office. Regarding the story itself, some audiences have speculated about the possibility of a hidden same-sex relationship story within the film surrounding Zhen Yu-Xing’s past relationship that remains unclear. Especially, Leste Chen is controversially known for his daring and deep storytelling after bringing LGBTQ+ themed movies through Eternal Summer. Yes, I can see where all the speculation is coming from after watching the movie. But it is up to our perspective and interpretation. Besides, love is universal. I personally think the beauty of ambiguity that Leste Chen tries to conveys through the story is making it more charming and fun. We all need that space between the filmmaker’s reality and our imagination to make it more vivid.  

Upcoming Summer‘s premise might appear typical for the coming-of-age universe, but trust me, it goes far beyond your typical youth drama. But that is what makes it fun, right? It’s sentimental, far from cliche, and it conveys great messages that are often overlooked: Don’t lie, be honest. It will save you from trouble.

You can stream Upcoming Summer exclusively on Netflix.

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