Better Days – 8

While this was more effective as a romance than an anti-bullying message film, what most sticks in mind is the brutal picture of life in China for high-school seniors. Made in Hong Kong in 2019 (but up for an Academy Award this year), could it have been intended as a critique of mainland education, which seemed to consist solely of uniform-wearing, slogan-spouting, exam-cramming, when not being harassed by uneducated, brutal thugs. The slowly growing bond of the two young leads gave us plenty to care about, while the Mean Girl villains played a role consistent across all cultures. The legal result made little sense to our American experience; but, as we’re continually learning with Spiral, human nature may be universal but judicial systems aren’t.

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