How Long Will I love U (China, 2018) [SDAFF 2018]

How Long Will I love U concerns Lu Ming (Lei Jiayin) and Gu Xiaojiao (Tong Liya) who live in the same apartment nineteen years apart. Lu is from 1999 and Gu is from 2018. One morning they wake up together in the same apartment, which has become a weird dimensional portal. If they leave the apartment through Lu’s door, they are in 1999. If they leave through Gu’s door, they are in 2018. The pair soon discovers that they can make some changes to their respective timelines. The more time they spend together, the closer they become and ultimately fall in love.

They also discover that those changes have consequences and that they don’t necessarily mean that their destinies are really in their own hands. Lu learns that he has become successful by 2018 and it is in fact his older self that has created this portal for time travel, though it was a mistake. The portal was supposed to go forward in time, not back to 1999. When 1999 Lu gets too close to his 2018 self, there are unexpected consequences and things ultimately take a turn that neither Lu nor Gu expect.

In the 1999 timeline, Lu is a bit of a nerd who is struggling to get his work recognized by his bosses. When we first meet Gu, she is trying to find a wealthy man to marry her, but it backfires on her. She is rather shallow and seemingly desperate. But both Lu and Gu become likeable characters as they get to know each other, though that takes a little time. I found myself rooting really hard for them, that everything would somehow work out, even though they would have to get back to their respective timelines eventually. 2018 Lu isn’t particularly likeable. He comes across as cold and distant, quite the opposite of his 1999 self. He does manage to redeem himself by the end of the film by doing something for Gu that was unexpected. You can feel the chemistry between the two.

Su Lun’s writing and direction are very good as it is fun to watch the jumps between timelines. While it’s reminiscent of The Lake House (2006) and The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009), Lun’s film has a much lighter feel on the whole. The only major flaw was that the reason for the time travel wormhole was only briefly mentioned and never really returned to again (it has something to do with theft of business technology) though doing so may have admittedly taken the film in a darker direction. Other than that, How Long Will I Love U is an enjoyable film that comes highly recommend.

How Long Will I Love U is showing on November 12 and 13 at the San Diego Asian Film Festival.