The Joys and Sorrows of Young Yuguo review – humble and sweet tribute to a young dreamer

By Romey Norton
Published: October 6, 2022


This heartwarming story about a boy following his dreams is both inspiring and saddening. 

Netflix documentary film The Joys and Sorrows of Young Yuguo was released on October 6th, 2022. 

Directed by Ilinca Calugareanu and starring Haoming Chen, audiences are taken on a journey with sixteen-year-old Yuguo, whose love of East European romantic poetry takes him to the foothills of Romania’s Carpathian Mountains. This film is shot over eighty days and shows audiences the country that stole this teen’s heart. Not like every typical teen, Yuguo always preferred to read 19th-century Eastern European romantic poetry, and with his parents supporting his dream, he was accepted onto a course to study in Bacau, Romania. 

The film opens with Yuguo sharing his dream in which he is a dragon that can go far off into the world to find his true home. In just under thirty minutes, this documentary goes by quickly, and nothing terribly exciting happens. We’re taken on a journey and learn about his story and who he was. We’re given interviews with people who knew Yuguo, describing him as a person, his dreams and aspirations, and how he had such an impact on the locals in such a short time. Not only did he become nearly fluent in Romanian, but he also attended their public celebrations wrapped in the flag, becoming well-known around the country.

The documentary is well shot as we fly through the mountains of Romania, like a dragon, reflecting Yuguo’s dream. There is adventurous and instrumental music used throughout, this helps drive the narration and range of emotions.

What is so beautiful about this is we sometimes forget how wonderful the lands are around us until a stranger comes in and reminds us. This person’s love for Romania is so beautiful it’s made me want to visit the country, and it’s now on my bucket list. I enjoyed that he was inspired to go somewhere not as controversial as the USA, UK, and Australia. 

However, whilst this is inspiring it’s also very somber and sad as we learn that Yuguo is no longer with us. Being able to fulfill this dream and having a happy, eighty days there does bring happiness to my heart. Seeing that his loving family has set up a scholarship in his name and that he was made an honorary citizen of Bacau is so thoughtful but I still finished this documentary feeling sad that a young life was lost so soon. 

What did you think of the Netflix documentary film The Joys and Sorrows of Young Yuguo? Comment below.

Movie Reviews, Netflix, Streaming Service