This article discusses the ending of the Netflix film Upcoming Summer (2021), so will contain major spoilers.
Upcoming Summer is a story that primarily focuses on Chen Chen and Zhen Yu-Xing, who fail their college entrance exams due to jarring realities and form a unique friendship and overcome themselves together. So far, we already see their story unfolds one step at a time. Zhen Yu-Xing only lives with his father. They share a detached and distant relationship. There’s no information about her mother at all. Meanwhile, Chen Chen finds out that her mother is having an affair with another man. But the real question is, what happens during Chen Chen’s 18th birthday that finally leads to the bittersweet truth of their friendship?
What happens during Chen Chen’s 18th birthday?
Approaching Chen Chen’s 18th birthday, Zhen Yu-Xing gives her a self-composed mix that contains her recorded voice. The ones that they sing together in his room. In this scene, we can see how Chen Chen is astonished upon hearing her voice while deeply immersed by the passion that Zhen Yu-Xing radiates on stage. After her first birthday gift, Chen Chen happily goes home where she finally meets his father who comes to visit with a birthday cake. The three “happy” family celebrates her birthday early because Chen Chen has a date to attend to with Zhen Yu-Xing. She happily asks her parents to spend quality time together since it’s been a long time since her father came home.
The two best friends come to the same club at midnight, but they have to wait until 12 o’clock until Chen Chen turns 18 years old to passes the gate. Li, the Club’s gatekeeper, tells Zhen Yu-Xing that he will be disappointed because Ming will not attend today’s gigs due to a clash of schedules. She is currently in Sanya to prepare for the Summer Festival. After hearing the information, the atmosphere suddenly drops. Chen Chen is aware of this but chooses to tag along. She asks Zhen Yu-Xing whether Ming is the DJ that he falls in love with. Zhen Yu-Xing admits it but reassures Chen Chen that they come to the club to celebrate her birthday.
After successfully entering the club, Chen Chen is bewildered by the wildness of the clubhouse. She’s uncomfortable due to its unfamiliar experiences. Moreover, she lost his way to Zhen Yu-Xing due to the massive crowd but they eventually find their way back. Zhen Yu-Xing brings her to the front row where Chen Chen is deeply immersed with the vibrance and liberty that radiates. But later, her attention shifts to Zhen Yu-Xing, who protects her from behind. As the crowd goes wild, the tension builds within their eyes. Chen Chen is swayed by the moment and tries to go for a kiss but Zhen Yu-Xing evokes himself. Chen Chen runs away from the crowd.
The jarring truth
The two go into a misunderstanding. Zhen Yu-Xing chases after Chen Chen outside the club. She is throwing tantrums that Zhen Yu-Xing only uses her to make his ex-DJ jealous and pushes him to start facing the reality that he’s dumped and she doesn’t want to deal with him anymore. Zhen Yu-Xing strikes back by saying that she’s also at fault for not having the courage to face the truth about her parents and uses him to cover the truth. And that’s how the 18th birthday party goes wrong.
Chen Chen walks herself home. But in the middle of the road, she stops by after seeing both of her parents is sitting inside a sake’s house. She takes a peep and astonishes by the bizarre view of her father is holding another woman and her mother is casually ranting about how they have been neglected to her. If we take a look back, Chen Chen still believes that both of their parents love each other for eternity until reality slaps her twice that day. Chen Chen is heartbroken after witnessing the truth and tears can’t help stream from her eyes.
Meanwhile, Zhen Yu-Xing desperately tries to reach out to Ming but his number is being blocked. He later tries to call Ming using the club’s phone. It’s dialing. A men’s voice is answering on the other side of the line, “Ming, there’s someone calling you.” But as soon as Zhen Yu-Xing starts to speak, the phone is being turned off and the second time he tries, there’s no answer. Zhen Yu-Xing begins to cry in desperation upon his unrequited love.
The spontaneous journey
Chen Chen goes back to the club and finds Zhen Yu-Xing on the verge of breaking down. Later, they reconcile over beer and share a bittersweet conversation: about understanding love and accepting the truth that’s happening in their world. For her birthday, Chen Chen holds Zhen Yu-Xing’s hands as she wishes to have the courage to be more honest with themselves. Chen Chen mustering all of her courage to admitting that she is jealous of Ming when he refuses to kiss her. “See? Being honest is not that hard,” says Chen Chen. Later, she comes up with the wildest idea: going to the Summer Festival in Sanya and meet Ming to give him an explanation. And of course, Zhen Yu-Xing agrees.
The two embarks on a spontaneous trip to Sanya without notifying their parents of the disappointment. But Zhen Yu-Xing, being a rebel and internet celebrity himself casually exposes their trips to the world. Causing a huge fuss among the school and surprises the parents. While the two besties are having the time of their life enjoying their great escape, Chen Chen’s parents are being all wary about their daughter. Zhen Yu-Xing’s father, on the other hand, remains calm and composed and even reassures that Zhen Yu-Xing will not do anything to their daughter. The school is planning to make a reflection and expel them regarding their reckless action that impacts the school’s reputation.
Does Zhen Yu-Xing get his closure from Ming?
Both of them arriving at the Summer Festival. As they walk through the big billboard about the performing DJ, Zhen Yu-Xing stops and stares at one billboard with the words “DJ Ming” written on it. But the face is not revealed. Chen Chen is deeply mesmerized by the colorful, vibrant, and liveliness of the Summer Festival since polar opposites always attract us. Her life has been turning upside down, all the edginess and party gives her the sense of freedom and life she’s been yearning for. Both of them is enjoying the time of their life, as the parent’s hassles arriving in Sanya. Chen Chen’s mother’s boyfriend is helping them to locates their children’s whereabouts.
After having a blast, the atmosphere changes. It’s time for another DJ to burn the stages down. But other than the stage, the DJ is about to burn Zhen Yu-Xing’s love down. It’s DJ Ming. The most anticipated appearances that we’ve been wanting to see. As the DJ takes the stage, the two high schoolers suddenly got quiet. As if their world stops spinning. Zhen Yu-Xing helplessly looking at the vibrant stages, full of freedom, full of life. While tears streaming down his eyes. The atmosphere changes when Ming starts to play Zhen Yu-Xing’s favorite song, Superhero by The Script. Chen Chen asks him if they want to go to the front row but Zhen Yu-Xing tells that there’s no need to go the front because he does not need Ming’s explanation anymore. She does not owns him one either. He realizes that it was him who stucks inside his own reality so he needs to learn to let go and accept the truth that the person he likes does not like him at all.
This scene can be seen in another way, too. We’ve seen how Zhen Yu-Xing leads a lonely life despite being popular. His inner self lies within the reasoning behind his action. Ming probably represents the desires within Zhen Yu-Xing, the lives, and dreams he’s always wanted. In the beginning, Zhen Yu-Xing tells Chen Chen that he only makes video so Ming can notices his existances. He needs validation and Ming is his ideal person to gives that meaning of existance that he always longs for. Especially, his father is mostly absent. That’s why he’s so attached to the idea of love that they have. Other than that, it is also a display of his inferiority that makes him realizes that the person is out of reach to the reality that both of them is seprates by the differences of their phases and level.
Does Chen Chen like Zhen Yu-Xing?
The song switch to the ones they’re listening in the classroom together, Upon hearing the song, Chen Chen stares blankly at the woman that floats in the air, she reaches her hand out while the scene parallel to her reaching out her hand on the water. She suddenly realizes where we finally see the truth behind her action. The night when she drowns herself in the pool at night; is the night she knows it all along about her parent is already divorce three years ago. The chat is not from her mother’s boyfriend, it’s from her father instead which suggests confronting her with the truth after she finishes the exams and turns 18th years old. Another revelation comes to the surface, Chen Chen does not fail her exams because she’s sick. She manages to finish all the exams but purposely clear all the answer because she can’t accept the fact and wants to delay their separation. Also, the times before she read her mother’s chat, she is looking at Zhen Yu-Xing’s video.
The two locking eyes with one another. This time, another secret is revealed, she whispers to his ear, The truth is, I already have a crush on you since Junior year.” she confesses. Zhen Yu-Xing lends in and kisses her. The two shares a kiss, a bittersweet one. “I wish I can like you back,” He replies. Chen Chen devastatingly smiles while hiding her pain, “Maybe what we need is to accept that the person that we like doesn’t like us back.” Says Chen Chen.
This is the scene where I think stirs up the speculation of Zhen Yu-Xing’s sexuality throughout the film. Since Ming’s identity also remains ambiguous. When the DJ is presented at the stages, only the outfits is seen. Although they refer to it as “She,” throughout th film, but I do think that everything about Ming is intentionally remains unsettled to gives a more deeper meaning. Another triggers also when his father is so adamant about Zhen Yu-Xing will not do anything to Chen Chen. Everything about his relationship with Ming is based on rumors and his perspectives. Again, it’s up to interpretation. But it is what makes it unique and fun.
What happens to Chen Chen and Zhen Yu-Xing?
After the confession, both of their parents arrive at the Summer Festival and finds them standing at each other. The adults rush to take them back. Zhen Yu-Xing’s father beats him to the ground while Chen Chen is being pulled by her parents. The two children is so lost due to the unexpected situation they’re facing. The next thing we see is the parent and children go back to the hotel, anxiously facing the consequences of their action.
Chen Chen is asked to sign a confession letter about Zhen Yu-Xing’s action including pushing her to post their relationship to the internet without consent to bring her for a spontaneous trip. Chen Chen is unable to sign the letter, she admits all the lies regarding their relationship which leaves her mother speechless. But her mother still urges her to sign it so she won’t get expelled and states that she does not believe anything she says due to her continuous lies. Chen Chen breaks down and finally throws everything to the surface. “You want to know the truth?” She asks daringly.
Chen Chen later exposes all the truth behind her failing the exams. It’s not because of Zhen Yu-Xing, it’s because she knows the lies that their parents are keeping from her: their divorcement and affair. Keep in mind that Chen Chen lives believing the lies that her parent creates for her. All she ever did is wanting to stay in those beautiful lies because the truth hurts. This finally brings wakes up call to Chen Chen’s mother as the two shares tears. Her mother takes back her letter and says that Chen Chen will not be signing it and if she needs to be expelled then be it.
Chen Chen comes back to Zhen Yu-Xing to reassures his condition but by that time, he’s been sweating like crazy. Suddenly, he anxiously says that his left ear can’t hear anything and desperately asking Chen Chen about it while on the verge of breaking down. “I think I’ve lost my left ear’s hearing,” He begins to throw up and knocks out to the ground. Ironically, It’s the spot that his father punches him and all the emotional might takes a toll on him. Chen Chen desperately asking for help while the parents rush to help him. Things wouldn’t be so complicated if everyone just simply be honest.
What happens in the future?
After all the drama and painful revelation, Chen Chen is studying hard for her college entrances examination at home with her mother supervising her. Lucky for her that the school is giving her another chance to take the exams, but Zhen Yu-Xing remains unknown. During the day of the exams, she stops and stares melancholically at the mathematic question which consists of “x,y,z” variables which are also the initials that Zhen Yu-Xing uses for his stage name, “DJ XYZ.”
Three years later, Chen Chen is seen sitting inside the car where her boyfriend’s mother is driving her to Sanya. So we can conclude that her mother finally found her endgame. It is also a sign of development and growth that Chen Chen can finally accept the reality of her family and how love is not like what she believes in fairytales. Her mother finally moves into his hometown, where Chen Chen asks if she likes the town she lives in right now or not because she keeps hearing her complain all the time. Her boyfriend calmly answers that “It’s just like her. The more she complains, the more she likes it.” He replies while her mother is soundly asleep.
Later, we can see that Chen Chen is attending the same Summer Festival that she attends with Zhen Yu-Xing three years ago. Their last Summer together. She is standing in front of a giant billboard, but this time, it’s the photo of someone whom she is familiar with and longs for. It’s DJ XYZ a.k.a Zhen Yu-Xing.
Netflix film Upcoming Summer (2021) ending explained
The film ends with Chen Chen comes to the crowd while Zhen Yu-Xing walks himself to the stage. So he finally gets to lives his dream as a DJ. It closes with a narrative by Chen Chen and Zhen Yu-Xing, “Zhen Yu-Xing, when is the future?” Asks Chen Chen. “It’s right now. The time when the person you like, likes you back. It’s the future.” Zhen Yu-Xing replies.
So it’s an open ending and up to your interpretation. It can indicate that after three years, they’re finally able to sincerely open their feeling to each other. That’s why he emphasizes the word, “Right now,” when answering about the future. It can also indicate that, as long the never-ending possibilities since love is defined as a universal and timeless. Nevertheless, the film starts with a lie but ends up with the truth.
What do you think of the ending of the Netflix film Upcoming Summer (2021)? Comment below. You can stream it exclusively on Netflix.