STAY WITH ME (2016) Review – Break up with logic

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Titles: 放弃我,抓紧我 (Fang Qi Wo, Zhua Jin Wo) / Stay With Me


Cast:

  • Chen Qiao En (Joe Chen) as Li Wei Wei
  • Wang Kai as Chen Yi Du
  • Qiao Ren Liang (Kimi Qiao) as Huo Xiao
  • Chen Ran as Tiffany
  • Zhang Xuan Rui as Leo
  • Zhang Duo as Mo Fan
  • Qi Hang as Kang Xin
  • Cao Ran Ran as Ou Ye
  • Liu Meng Meng as Jenny
  • Xie Jun Hao as Huo Rui Qiang
  • Zheng Long as Qiao Zhi
  • Wang Xiao Mao as Su Fei
  • Guo Jiao Hao as Cao Zhong
  • Fu Jia as Lao Wan
  • Miao Hao Jun as Huo Rui Yong
  • Zhao Zi Mo as Secretary Wang
  • Du Ning Lin as Mother Du
  • Wang Meng Li as Fang Ya Lun
  • Li Bing Hui as Huang Kai

Directed by: Ruan Wei Xin, Chen Guo Hua and Billy Tang

Written by: Qian Jing Jing, Xu Zi Yuan and Jiang Guangyu

Created by: Tong Hua

Produced by: Tang Panjing, Wang Li, Chen Ying and Chen Qiao En


Plot (from Wiki):

After an accidental drowning, Li Wei Wei (Chen Qiao En) a famous fashion designer, loses parts of her memory. Whereby her memories stop at when she was 23. The boyfriend she remembers has now become her ex and rival, and instead a stranger is her fiancé. Li Wei Wei does not believe that she broke up with her ex Chen Yi Du (Wang Kai) and investigates the reason to as why they did. Her fiancé Qi Cheng (Qiao Ren Liang), in order to protect and rekindle his relationship, uses all methods to prevent Wei Wei from investigating. During her investigation, Wei Wei discovers that due to the hectic lifestyle of adulthood, she has lost the innocence of her original dreams. It was this very reason as well to as why she and her ex broke up. The now 30 years old Li Wei Wei has decided to change her lifestyle. She plans to regain her most pure emotions and dreams as well as finding true love.

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Review:

Stay With Me (SWM) aired during the last month of 2016. Before its release I saw a lot of beautiful and glamorous stills.

I was quite expectant about the series because Tong Hua screenplayed it, and that was both good and bad news. He’s a great novelist, with awesome works adapted to television series like Scarlet Heart or Sound of the Desert; but an extremely frustrating screenwriter as well (I will never get over the bitter disappointment of Perfect Couple; also, I directly dropped Destined to love you).

Will SWM become Tong Hua’s chance to surpass himself? Is SWM just an average idol drama? Here’s my answer.

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As an idol drama, the cast is beautiful and appealing enough

(SPOILERS) The plot is set around two main wedding dress design companies: Ling Long and Du. They are rivals when it comes to business, but they are also intricatelly related in the personal setting. Ling Long’s designer (Li Wei Wei) and Du’s CEO (Chen Yi Du) were in love five years ago, but after some events, they broke up and became fatal enemies.

Joe Chen plays the role of Li Wei Wei, Ling Long’s 30 years old designer and a well-known ruthless workaholic. In the first episode, she proposed marriage to her childhood bestie, Huo Xiao, during an important design competition against Du. It was obvious that marriage was a strategy to assure victory and that she didn’t truly love Huo Xiao. This cold, mean and heartless Li Wei Wei lasts only one episode and a half; because after an accidental drowning, she awakes without the memories from her last 7 years (dramas love amnesias).

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I like how stylish and glamorous Joe Chen looks in this drama

The Li Wei Wei presented now stays 7 years ago, when she was 23 years old. Everyone is surprised because this Li Wei Wei (friendly, sassy and idealist) is radically different from that ruthless workaholic. This makes the viewer ask himself what happened in that gap of 7 years, why Li Wei Wei changed so much.

I must say that I loved her. Joe Chen’s smile is so sweet that you can’t help but smile too. Note: I read that she had been recently criticised for haven’t stop starring in idol dramas with 37 years old. I don’t blame Joe Chen: firstly she doesn’t look like she has 37 years old (that surprised me, she looks younger!). Starring in idol dramas is her right, even more if she has always succeded in this kind of works. Besides, it’s not a problem of Joe Chen’s acting skills, she has proved herself as a talented hardworking actress, since the beginning of her career.

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Actors are also people, and people are free to choice whatever they want, even if that choice involves plots which leave a lot to be desired; that doesn’t wippe off her efforts and dedication to work

Back to our female lead, I enjoyed Li Wei Wei and her interactions with people surrounding her. She was witty and resourceful, as she proved when facing problems and solving difficulties.

Still, I loathed how weak-willed she was, in contrast, regarding to Huo Xiao. She should have explained, since the start, what she thought, instead of just mocking or asking herself how things came to that point. She kept evading that matter, even after her relationship with Chen Yi Du became clear. In addition, her logic (and Chen Yi Du’s) makes no sense when it comes to their bond (congratulations, Tong Hua, thanks again for senseless writing).

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I love that childish and sassy Li Wei Wei

Despite many times the plot made me pull my hair, I laughed a lot with Joe Chen’s acting as that childish and sassy Li Wei Wei.

Her eccentric daydreams and fantasies were hard to accept in the first moment, but I started liking them immediately. They were a required touch of humor that ended up characterising the series. In SWM there’s drama, a lot of drama (even when it’s not necessary), but there’s always humor as well.

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Li Wei Wei took daydreaming to a next level (it’s even better if you remember that Joe Chen became well-known in China for playing the role of Dong Fang Bu Bai)

Our male lead, Du’s CEO, Chen Yi Du, is played by Wang Kai. In interviews, Wang Kai revealed how unsure he was about filming idol dramas, but after one certain scene (that one in which he and Joe Chen dress up as Donald and Minnie), he got the drift. I agree with this: he surely got the drift. Wang Kai doesn’t disappoint in his performance as Chen Yi Du (I’m starting to believe he never disappoints).

He’s a badass and ruthless chief, but whereas Li Wei Wei looked like a cold and heartless one, Chen Yi Du carried a melancholic hallo. His actions seemed cruel and unfeeling, but in his eyes you could appreciate his sorrow and resignation. Despite his appearance, he’s a kind boy with tender and simple aspirations. He values justice and is confident about himself and his abilities. In business he can be implacable, but he won’t use any unfair trick to win.

His behavior towards Li Wei Wei, an amnesic Li Wei Wei, made me expectant. I wanted to know everything that happened between them (even if I suspected that it would be something predictable, no surprising).

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Wang Kai is ridiculously attractive starring as Chen Yi Du

Wang Kai and Joe Chen have marvelous on-screen chemistry. I confess that I fangirled, a lot. I loved Chen Yi Du and Li Wei Wei, and that’s why I got so mad when things started to be senseless (once again, congrats Tong Hua). One thing is sure: the series’ title give justice to the upsetting plot (Fang Qi Wo, Zhua Jin Wo). During a countless amount of episodes, my couple kept breaking up (Fang Qi Wo) and making up (Zhua Jin Wo). E-X-A-S-P-E-R-A-T-I-N-G. I think there was even a time when they just made up, and in the following scene they were already breaking up ಠ╭╮ಠ

Moreover, most of the time I couldn’t understand their logic… I was almost scared by that lack of logic destined to create a bunch of uncessary drama. Basically, Li Wei Wei kept blaming Chen Yi Du for his father’s death, which was an accident (bus crash). In a later flashback, it is shown how Li Wei Wei begged Chen Yi Du to not break up with her (even ‘though his father was already dead). After Chen Yi Du’s rejection, she started blaming him for her father’s death, but still, if she forgave him in that moment, why she couldn’t do the same later? She just took it as another excuse to break up (again) with Chen Yi Du.

It was more logical that Chen Yi Du blamed Li Wei Wei for her mother’s condition (Alzheimer), considering that she unwillingly pushed her down the stairs. Even so, it was an accident and it’s hard to believe that a brilliant guy like Chen Yi Du couldn’t reach to that conclusion by himself.

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For the viewer’s pleasure, there’s plenty of “bi dong” in this show

Something I loved about this couple was all the “bi dong”. This is a term referring, literally, to “wall thumps” (someone push another person against the wall, in a very romantic and badass move). What makes the show especial is that everything (really, everything) served for them, not only walls (trees, chairs, sofas…).

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Even Huo Xiao “bi dong” Chen Yi Du

After all, you fervently wish them to stay together and live happily, but Tong Hua was never over with all the break up. He even created an absurd villain in order to keep the drama. I’m talking about Mo Fan (Zhang Duo), Chen Yi Du’s best friend, who’s later revealed to be his worst enemy. Mo Fan’s parents died in a car crash with Chen Yi Du’s father. As a result, he blamed Chen Yi Du and wanted revenge… ◔_◔

Of course, his revenge was also senseless and frustrating. It took the cake when in the final scene, they revealed that the car crash was in fact Mo Fan’s father fault ◔_◔ I mean, this guy has been searching revenge for two decades (two decades!). In twenty years, he didn’t discover the truth?! A truth which Chen Yi Du found in least than a single year… ◔_◔

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Donald saving Minnie

Kimi Qiao plays the role of our second male lead, Huo Xiao. Note: I can’t help but get sad when it comes to Kimi Qiao. I couldn’t be considered his fan, but I truly liked him when I got the chance to see him (The Glamorous Imperial Concubine and Cruel Romance, in addition to a reality show called We Are In Love). What it’s sure is that Kimi Qiao was talented, hope that he rests in peace.

I was grateful for Huo Xiao’s presence in SWM. Along with Tiffany, he was one of the few characters that were logical. His decisions and behavior are understandable, he loves Li Wei Wei unconditionally and is willing to do everything to make her happy. When he finally saw that Li Wei Wei would only be happy if she stayed with Chen Yi Du, he gave up on her as a lover and sacrificed his own emotions. I was touched by everything he did for Li Wei Wei, even more when everyone was misunderstanding him. Huo Xiao is surely a sunshine boy.

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His concern to Li Wei Wei was frequently excessive, but it was so sweet and genuine that no one could have blamed him

Huo Xiao is so kind that made everything even worst. Since the beginning, you know that Li Wei Wei would end up with Chen Yi Du and not with him; and still, he always stayed by her side. He was her shield when people tried to hurt her but also her sword when she needed to defend herself. Besides, their childhood flashbacks were lovely.

The resolution of this love triangle reminded me of Best Time (adapted from a Tong Hua’s novel): Li Wei Wei, reluctant to face Huo Xiao and Chen Yi Du, decides to leave and escapes to the village. In the end, Chen Yi Du accidentally found her and brought her back to the city, where he had founded a new design company (Chu Xin).

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Joe Chen and Kimi Qiao also have a precious on-screen chemistry, remember that they were in real life really good friends

Tiffany (Chen Ran) is Du’s designer and as I said, she is along with Huo Xiao, one of the few characters that made sense. She had worked with Chen Yi Du since Du’s origins, and fell for him. Tiffany’s behavior follows a simple rule: give everyone a taste of their own medicine. She will be good with those who are kind with her, and she will be bad with those who are mean with her.

At first I found her annoying, although it was poignant to see her devotion to Chen Yi Du. I think I started to like her when Leo appeared and there were more and more scenes involving both of them. I loved how rational was her decision to stay with Leo, instead of hanging always on Chen Yi Du. As a couple, Leo and Tiffany were lovely, and you feel grateful for their logical development (with no absurd break ups and make ups like the main couple).

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She was annoying at first, but somehow I ended up feeling attached to Tiffany

However, Leo‘s character wasn’t that logical… ಠ~ಠ He appeared suddenly, giving room to a bunch of funny (but senseless) situations. Just when I accepted he was Li Wei Wei’s lover or something, he revealed that he was in fact her little brother (?). Sudden and illogical. I think they first introduced him like that because it would generate more tautness in the love triangle. When it was no longer necessary his presence as Chen Yi Du and Huo Xiao’s rival, they got rid off him by telling that he was Li Wei Wei’s adoptive brother. In addition, his job as a famous model kept making me question why nobody recognize him when wandering so carelessly in the streets.

Apart from this, Leo was an extremely adorable character. His actor, Zhang Xuan Rui, did a really good job depiciting his sassiness. He was surely the best choice for Tiffany.

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Little bro Leo

On the other hand, I felt exasperated each time that french woman appeared (“Ge Di Ya“?). Not because she was french, of course, but because all the design competition thing extended to a stupid point. Du and Ling Long kept fighting for that deal because the drama needed them to.

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That kiss was beautiful

One last comment to praise Chen Yi Du’s mother actress: Du Ning Lin. She was as cute as heartwarming. I laughed a lot when she kept, possibly on purpose, getting Tiffany confused as the maid.


Conclusion:

Stay With Me is a beautiful senseless idol drama. I was hooked by the chemistry of the actors, fascinated by scenery’s charm and impressed by costume’s glamour.

If you can ignore the bunch of details that don’t make sense and enjoy the absurdity, you will love this drama. I suppose idol dramas are not meant to be masterpieces, to change your life or teach you profound lessons; but as far as can be expected, Stay With Me is a great idol drama.

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Side note:

Wang Kai and Joe Chen have developed a fabulous “friendship” in real life. I highly recommend you to watch their interviews together (some examples below), their interaction is adorable!


  • Plot: 11/20
  • Cast: 20/20
  • OST: 8/10
  • Scenography: 10/10
  • Costume: 10/10
  • Overall: 8.4/10
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