When Yuyang Wang (Han Dongjun) asked his sweetheart Wen Chen (Zhiqi Zhuang) to marry him, she did not appear too sure, but he did not want to let this good thing out of his life so he made her a vow: he would give her a coin over the course of the next ninety days, which at the end of that time would amount to the cost of a marriage licence. She went along with his plan, but come the end of that period she still was not sure, no matter the attention he had lavished on her. There remained an opportunity: could she take it?
The Story of 90 Coins was a ten-minute short from director and advertising man Michael Wong which earned praise at festivals across the world, the ones which accepted shorts at least. You would note his commercial eye for a pretty, slick image immediately: the two leads were attractive in a freshly scrubbed way that would not be at all out of place in an ad break, and it had a message to put across in a brief amount of time that was akin to a product being sold to you, only in this case it was the thought of romance and how it could benefit your life.
As long as you did not allow that love to slip through your fingers, that was, though here was an enigma that was unclear whether Wen had made the correct choice or not. Certainly her beau was dedicated to her, but perhaps he was a shade too infatuated, going the extra mile into outright obsession. Early on we see her interacting with French co-worker Andre (Jose Acosta) who invites her to a new post in Paris, and they obviously get on well but Yuyang takes their chummy nature as an outright betrayal of his love, which seems to be irrational to say the least.
Then Wong shows us what Yuyang did for Wen in flashback as she finds the envelopes each coin was held in, and had a little observation from him written inside the flap. All this is very cutesy, and the man has given a lot of thought to his marital duties if she says yes, but he does not come across as very aware of how to live life in the modern world, and that is his tragedy - hers too, when you see the tears she cries on realising that they could never really have been together. On one hand, maybe she had a lucky escape, but on the other, where else would she find a partner so entranced with her that he would have done so much to make her happy? As you can see, it was a short that while simple on the surface (there was even the moral written out at the end in case we missed it), but troubling the further you considered the way romance had moved on into the twenty-first century.