The Story of 90 Coins (2015)
Director: Michael Wong
Cast: Jose Acosta, Dongjun Han, Zhuang Zhiqi
Synopsis: How much is a promise worth these days? An aspiring fashion designer finds out when she has to choose between fulfilling her promise and realizing her dream.
Genre: Short, Drama, Romance
MPAA Rating: NR
Release Date: October 22, 2015 (China)
Relationships are the key ingredient needed in life. Whether its family, friendships, or romantic relationships, one or more of the areas is essential for an individual to live a healthy life. However, as everyone comes to realize sooner or later, relationships are complicated. Many factors involving sharing your time, possessions, and love are involved, and sometimes (and often) these factors lead into conflicts and even the termination of relationships.
In his directional debut short film, The Story of 90 Coins, Malaysian filmmaker Michael Wong explores the complex nature of romantic relationships through the eyes of two young lovers, Wang Yuyang (Dongjun Han) and Chen Wen (Zhuang Zhiqi). After discovering Chen doesn't seek a lifelong relationship with him, Wang asks her to give him 90 days for him to prove his love for her, where each day he'll give her a coin that will total $9 at the end of the 90 days and be used to either buy drinks for themselves (should he fail) or purchase a marriage certificate (should he win her over).
The short film clocks in at only 9 minutes long, yet each minute is used to its full potential. We see the beautiful memories of a young relationship taking place, the inevitable element of jealousy and trust issues that take place, the complications of choosing work over a relationship, and the unexplainable moment of realizing one is in love. All of these moments are shown through beautiful cinematography work that implements shallow depth of field that highlights the city lights, strong backlighting (particularly on the hair of the actors), and a vibrant color palette that changes based on where the couple are at romantically in their relationship. The color white in particular is used extensively, from items including clothing, walls, rugs, animals (Chen's dog), umbrellas, snow and other items in the mise-en-scene. The color white is universally associated with purity, and in this case directly symbolizes the simpleness, elegance, and virtuous nature of Wang and Chen's relationship. To cap it off, the stunning cinematography and luscious color palette are complimented by a heartfelt musical score that directly correlates with the simpleness and elegance of the young couple's relationship.
The Story of 90 Coins is a short film whose message is to recognize the value of those early days and months in a relationship, the days where you are making memories--even though you don't realize it in the moment. The value of these days is marked in the film by a coin each day, which essentially tells viewers to experience and make the very best of each day like you are paying for it. If more of us could do that, we would certainly think a little harder about how, when, and where we spend our time.