The Story of 90 Coins opens on a refused proposal – or a postponed one anyway. In a desperate attempt to marry the woman of his dreams, a young man concocts a 90-day plan that he believes will get him the answer he wants. The film, directed by Malaysian Michael Wong, has received considerable recognition in both its native China and abroad. The message carried by this 9 minute short is a universal one, and an important one, and as a film dealing with love and regret, The Story of 90 Coins proves to be quite powerful.
His plan works, but due to unforeseen circumstances, the two protagonists drift apart as Chen (Zhuang Zhiqi) follows a career and as a consequence becomes (professionally) involved with a Frenchman. After suspicion gets the better of him, Wang (Dongjun Han) confronts Chen and pushes her further. They break up and Wang disappears, never to be seen again, closing their last conversation with the line , “you owe me ninety days”.
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The film progresses from the present, in which our young woman protagonist lives but does not recognise the value of what she shares with Wang, to a future state, in which Chen falls into a state of nostalgia, forsaking everything she believed was worth pursuing. Stumbling upon the remnants of Wang’s 90-day plan, she lapses helplessly into a state of regret.
But the brief time that Wong has given himself to tell the story, means that Chen’s regret does not lead anywhere. The love she had not appreciated is nowhere to be seen, and she is tormented by moments that cannot be found in her impersonal and heartless new reality. Wang disappears and her thoughts, as though purposefully directed, reach out to the audience with a poignant message. The hero in the film is Wang, a hopeless romantic, while Chen allows hesitance and indecisiveness to govern her.
The Story of 90 Coins functions as a little life lesson. But it is not a forceful one: we don’t know what the true consequences of Chen’s decision are. We know that she finds herself in a state of regret. But what of it? Does she shake it off? Does she allow it to chip away at her forever? Does she find Wang again? The director leaves it all open and lets it wash over the viewer, the conclusion a product of our imagination.
Watch The Story of 90 Coins here:
The Story of 90 Coins at IMDb
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The Story of 90 Coins at IMDb (awards won and nominated for) at IMDb