Autumn's Concerto


Reviewed by: Bridget

April 08, 2010

Rating: three-point-five

Year: 2009
Chinese Title: “Xia Yi Zhan, Xing Fu” (literally, Next Stop,
Happiness
)
No. of episodes: 21
Theme song: “Wo Ai Ta” (I Love Him) – Della Ding (opening)

Cast
Vaness Wu as Guang Xi
Ady An as Mu Cheng
Tiffany Xu as Yi Qian
Chris Wu as Tuo Ye
Xiao Xiao Bin as Xiao Le
Supporting Cast
Amanda Zhu as Hua Ci
Figaro Ceng as Jacko

Foreword
Recycle and reuse is the theme of the day here. Though that is the
case, Autumn’s Concerto more or less lives up to its romantic,
melancholy title. Welcome to Taiwanese melodrama.

Plot

Mu Cheng is a poor, plain girl who encounters the rich, rebellious
Guang Xi by chance. They go the same university. Mu Cheng has a best
guy friend, named Tuo Ye, who holds a torch for her. Sound familiar?
Yes. It’s the basic equation for almost every Taiwanese idol drama
ever made: Meteor Garden (MG) comes to mind.

Guang Xi has family issues: he hates his mom and suffers from PTSD,
causing him to be rebellious and untrusting of women and people in
general. Sound familiar? Yes, a similar storyline can be found in
MG. Mu Cheng doesn’t have a rosy past either, orphaned at a young age
and raised by her step-mother who remarried a man who has molested her
since youth. What does that remind you of? Yes, Mars.

When GX and MC fall in love, his mom is dead set against their
relationship and forces them apart when – wait for it – GX loses his
memory after a surgery that cures his (supposedly terminal) illness.
GX forgets about his romance with MC and ends up proposing to Yi Qian,
a doctor that his mom has tried to set him up with for years. Doesn’t
this remind you of… say… Meteor Garden II?

See a pattern? So do I. Basically, this series is what Meteor
Garden II
should have been.

Review

MGII would likely make the list of Top 5 Worst Sequels Ever Made. You
know it, I know it. Hell, I’m pretty sure even the writers know it.
So even though AC has an almost identical storyline, why is it so much
better? Easy answer – the acting.

Ady An is simply remarkable. You’d have to be dead to not be
affected by what goes on in AC, and a lot of that is due to her
performance. Bearing a striking resemblance to Vicki Zhao, her Mu
Cheng is full of vulnerability and depth. There’s a sense of sadness
that runs through her performance here, from the way she blinks back
tears to the way she longingly looks at GX, to even the way she
smiles. A luminous performance that gives this idol drama much of its
credibility.

Vaness Wu was, well, inconsistent. AC is his first lead role
and his acting has some good moments but overall requires a lot more
work. The absolute worst part of his performance in AC was his lawyer
scenes. The best were his reluctance to talk about his illness and
chemistry with Ady. His problem is that he overacts and his facial
features tend to contort in a way that is reminiscent of a psycho
killer. Some people just have that problem, you know. Oddly enough,
he improves heaps after GX loses his memory… I think it’s because much
less depressing drama happens after that event and he tones it down,
way down. Thank you, God.

Tiffany Xu once again plays the loser in love, and she shows
some improvement. It always throws me off when Tiffany speaks her
very good Mandarin because she looks so incredibly mixed. However,
she is very well cast as the lovely and intelligent Yi Qian. There’s
more emotional range to her acting in AC, although in some areas it
looks a bit forced.

Chris Wu was fantastic as Tuo Ye. He is angry, devoted and
determined all at the same time. AC was the first time I’ve ever seen
this guy and I found myself cheering for him instead of GX. He would
have been a great choice for MC although that isn’t quite the way
Taiwanese idol drama works. And I actually think he’s more handsome
than the too-angular, alien-like Vaness.

Scene-stealer Xiao Xiao Bin was just precious as Xiao Le. He
was bright, attentive, and mischievous, although a little pretentious
in some areas. The best part is, he actually looks like he could be
Ady and Vaness’ child. Children are my “dead nerve” as Cantonese
speakers would say, and his performance both warmed my heart and made
me cry.

Supporting cast performances including Liu Rui Qi as Guang Xi’s
mother and Amanda Zhu as Hua Ci were excellent. I recognized
Fu Pei Ci instantly as the cute, snarky little girl from Why
Why Love
. She has grown up quite a bit, and in AC she shows a lot
of potential in the drama department. I hope she sticks with acting.
Figaro Ceng is turning into a dependable supporting actor,
though the best supporting cast performance was delivered by the
actress who portrayed MC’s stepmother. There were multiple layers of
guilt, anger, selfishness and to a certain extent, love, in her
portrayal of the stepmother.

Good acting can make up for a lot of flaws, and it does in the case of
AC:

1. GX is dumb as a rock. How could he not have figured out that
MC never chose TY 6 years later and that there was something else to
the story? I’m glad TY asked this point-blank but wasn’t exactly
satisfied with GX’s answer.
2. Why does Xiao Le call MC by name? She’s his mom and call me
old-fashioned, but you should never call parents by their names. Same
deal with GX.
3. I don’t understand why MC doesn’t tell GX the truth after he
regains his memory. I know without this frustration, the series
wouldn’t exist (along with some other series) but AC is unique in the
sense that a child is involved. I don’t like that MC kept GX in the
dark about Xiao Le’s existence. Both father and son deserved to know
each other and make up for lost time.
4. There is nothing new about the storyline. If you’re looking
for unpredictability, look elsewhere.
5. I’m tired of the “overnight boom” for Taiwanese lead actors
who haven’t proven their acting chops yet. Why not give Guang Xi’s
character to someone who has pulled their weight already but hasn’t
yet been given the lead role opportunity? Danson Tang would have been
perfect. He looks like a bad boy and has that smart-aleck,
rebellious, but smart-as-a-whip aura about him too.
6. The ending was rushed and unsatisfying.

Aside from the quality of acting, the series also has some other good
points:

1. The OST will make you cry if you’re hormonal. Della Ding’s
I Love Him is the best theme song in Taiwanese idol drama
history. Tuo Ye’s theme is also very melodic.
2. Scenes in the countryside. The village characters were funny
and heart-warming, and their dialogue in Taiwanese dialect was
refreshing to see in an idol drama.
3. The family scenes and ending credits were poignant and heart-
warming in their simplicity.

To Watch or Not to Watch, That is the Question

If you don’t like sappy stuff, this series will not change your mind.
Rent if you want to see Meteor Garden II corrected.


Add your own review and become a featured critic on spcnet.tv!


Buy Now

A Hero Born (Legend of the Condor Heroes)Jin Yong English Translation Book 1

A Bond Undone (Legend of the Condor Heroes)Jin Yong English Translation Book 2


Buy Locca Boba Tea Kit

Love bubble tea?DIY Boba Tea Set