Following a tradition of blending the romantic genre narrative with icons and story devices from the science-fiction and fantasy genres (a trend that seems particularly prominent within Asian cinema in recent years), How Long Will I Love U is a refreshingly original idea, even if there remains a great deal of predictability/familiarity in its execution. In many ways, this has been the complaint about Danny Boyle’s Yesterday by critics, but the audience for romantic comedies is rarely one clamoring for creativity over the base enjoyments of the genre, and How Long Will I Love U makes certain not to sacrifice these expected elements, even if they counter the unpredictability of the science-fiction elements in the narrative.
The basic premise of the film feels like a more lighthearted take on The Lake House, in some ways, with our romantic pairing existing in different time period. The difference is their ways of interacting, as Lu Ming (Jiayin Lei) and Gu Xiaojiao (Liya Tong) awake to find themselves sharing an apartment, despite the fact that he lives in 1999 while she is existing in the modern world of 2018. It seems that their apartment is a portal between the two time periods, allowing this couple to interact with each other and even enter the world of the other. While in some regards this brings to mind classic time travel narratives, the emphasis in this particular film always remains on romance and a unique pair of ‘star-crossed lovers.’
Even with the focus remaining on the relationship between our protagonists, there are still rules established in terms of the science-fiction elements. We are informed that these portals are occurrences that are fleeting, which is primarily of concern because it will eventually end and cut ties between the two lovers. Each time they attempt to alter history or interact with their future or past selves, the window for this portal begins to close (shown in the form of their apartment being squashed to a smaller size).
How Long Will I Love U has some very base messages about success and what we are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve it. These are extremely familiar themes in this genre, which has often had the romantic lead choosing true love over superficial beauty or wealth; How Long Will I Love U simply adopts these themes to a science-fiction storyline (ironically in a way that is contrary to the ending given for Back to the Future, made during the height of American consumerist escapism. It is a film that is more clever than smart, but has enough heart to make up for lacking intellectual depth.
The Blu-ray release comes with no special features or extras, aside from the optional English and Chinese subtitles. If it is disappointing that the Blu-ray comes with nothing more than the movie, it is at least a colorfully shot film which is enhanced by a high definition presentation. With that being said, a little more attention could have been given to the release, which has the potential to be a crowd pleaser for any audience open to the experience.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 6.5/10
Special Features: 0/10